Jul 012011
 

My last 48 hours… in photos…

by Steve Huff

Wow, I have been one busy guy these last couple of days! It seems like the tour is now picking up steam and there are more and more shows with less days off. In the past 48 hours I have arrived in Moscow Russia, toured the Red Square, shot the Moscow show, shot a 2nd show in Moscow that went all night log until 6:30 AM this morning, caught a flight to Vienna Austria and traveled all day, arrived at my hotel and left 20 minutes later for dinner and a visit to the coolest Leica Shop EVER, Westlicht Camera in Vienna, Austria.

Whew!

Lots of stuff packed in these last 48 hours and luckily I had my M9 with me for most of those hours!

Since I do not have a few hours right now to sit down and write a killer article I decided to just post and share my last two days with you…in photos!

When it’s all said and done, it is always about the photo anyway right?

Enjoy and hopefully I can get more work done on the site next week (all depends on wifi availability as we start the busses tomorrow).

So let’s start off with the train ride to Moscow…

After leaving St. Petersburg Russia we boarded a train for a 4 hour trek to Moscow where Seal was performing not one, but TWO shows in the same night. One at a great concert hall, and then a private show in the evening. It was going to be a long day and night but the train ride was great. Smooth, relaxing and a teeny bit of fun as well.

Another M9 shooter and Seals guitar tech, Steve McDonald. We had a great table with window seats to check out the view as we made our way towards Moscow..oh, and the grain and BW conversions were done with SIlver Efex Pro II.

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The new Drummer for the band, George Johnson..always being the funny guy…

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When we made it we all got off the train and headed for the vans to take up to the hotel. Looks like some of the guys were tired of the train experience.

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Our bus driver decided to take a smoke break after we all loaded in the van, so Gus joined him.

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By the time we arrived to the room it was already late so I went to sleep and then woke the next morning for some breakfast and a trip to Red Square with some of the band members. It was bright and sunny so it was tough to get any good shots, but it was still fun to visit and see the sights.

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I had the exposure wrong with this one and it was hard to get right as the sun was shining right towards me…so the HDR look is not my preferred way to process but in this case it saved the image.

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By the time we got back from Red Square we had 40 minutes to get ready and be down in the lobby for sound check. Here is George with his drum set at that sound check.

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Showtime! decided to go up top for a different perspective. Click for a larger and better view…

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A group watching the show from above…

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…and it is always fun to shoot by the stage…

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after the show a fan came backstage and Seal tried out his old medium format film camera.. a Pentacon 6 TL…

A couple that was dancing while Seal sang “Loves Divine”…M9 and 24 Summilux

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After the show we had to go right to another show, which was a private concert in a club that started at 2AM. We ended up staying until 6:30AM.

The next two images were shot at the club, in near darkness. I wanted to sort of test out how the Nocti would do wide open, ISO 2500, crazy low light, and slow shutter speeds.


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f/0.95. 1/30s, iso 2500 – JPEG B&W

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the show started and it was pretty cool as it was very scaled down and intimate…AND DARK. So dark that I was wishing my Nocti was a f.050 lens! lol! Slow shutter speeds meant most shots were soft. All were ISO 2500 and wide open.

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how about some color at ISO 2500, 1/25s?

After the show we hung out for a while and it was soon time for some food…we ate and then headed back to the hotel at around 6-6:30 with just 3-4 hours to go before heading to the airport for Vienna.

When I arrived in Vienna I had about an hour to get ready as we were going to head to Westlich Camera in Vienna which is an AMAZING out of this world Leica shop. Here is Seal with the all new, extremely limited edition M3-P and chrome Noctilux f0.95! Only 20 made, just for Westlicht Camera.

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as I roamed the rooms of the Leica Shop I saw a stack of lenses…and guess what they all were..yep, 50 Summilux ASPH lenses all ready to be shipped out…wow. There were about a dozen sitting there which was a cool sight to see.

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how about a chrome M9-P with chrome 50 Noct?


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After the Leica shop, the owner took us to a delicious dinner. This one was shot with the M9 and 50 Lux ASPH at 1.4, ISO 2500

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It is now past 2am and I am ready to just crash and sleep. Tomorrow is a show day and will be hopping on a bus right after to drive to Budapest. Should be an interesting next few days!

Jun 292011
 

The Leica M9… for Sports? by Peter | Prosophos

Hi Steve,

Sometimes, when I read the commentary on the various fora, I get the sense that many people view the Leica M series cameras as great for “static” scenes like portraits, landscapes, and bowls of fruit.

Yet, as you have demonstrated with your concert photography, Leicas are great tools for capturing dynamic moments, and I know of at least one person who shoots racecars with his M9!

Despite this, Leicas are not often linked to sports images, so I thought this would make an interesting “just for fun” posting for your fine website.

OK, so the “sports” I’m referring to involves kids, but this still qualifies as action, and it’s not typical of the usual photography most people associate with a Leica camera.

Would I recommend a Leica M as a sports camera?

No, not really. The various “pro” DSLR bodies in existence are weather-sealed, have great high ISO performance, lend themselves more naturally to shooting at telephoto distances, and can be machine-gunned for crazy high frame rates.

Yet, what would I choose to photograph sports (or anything else I shoot)?

Hands down, the M9.

My reasons?

That’s a long story, perhaps long enough for somebody else to write an article about it. For now, I’ll just say that an M camera allows me to shoot the way I want, and to anticipate the action better than any other kind of camera I’ve ever used.

Here are the images, and thanks for doing such a great job with this site!

Peter | Prosophos

www.prosophos.com

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Jun 282011
 

The Seal tour in Brussels, Silver Efex Pro II & Creating moods with Black & White

By Steve Huff

Here it is Tuesday morning and I am in St. Petersburg, Russia and ready to head out to the next Seal show.

The Last  show was a blast in Brussels, Belgium and I had quite a bit of fun shooting it! There were between 25-26,000 people in attendance and it was one hell of a night with an amazing music loving crowd who were singing, dancing, and just having a great time the whole night. The energy was certainly there and to capture it I decided to go B&W with a little bit of a gritty feel.

Why go black and white for a concert full of life and color? From the stage lights, to the buildings surrounding the venue, color was everywhere! In fact, the photos look great in color but to me, this particular set looked better in B&W. I feel that in some situations going black & white can add a bit of drama and soul to your photos, and when presented in an entire B&W set, that is even better/stronger. Creating a theme/mood can always help to set apart a set of photos so for this entire set, I used Nik Silver Efex Pro II to convert, add grain and I think the results are fantastic. “DARE TO BE DIFFERENT” is what I always say. Breaking away from the generic norm can be good from time to time :)

It also goes to show a photo does not have to be technically and digitally perfect to pack a punch. Give me imperfections, broken rules, misfocus and grit and grain any day. Sometimes, these types of photos can be the most powerful.

For past B&W conversions I have been using Alien Skin Exposure 3, and I really enjoy its ease of use and simple presets. I have had a few people ask if I have used the new Silver Efex Pro II so I decided to download it and give it a try. Once I started using it I was enjoying its complexity and control points. With Silver Efex, I feel I get a little more control than I do with Alien Skin, though it can be slower and more involved.

So after going through the photos from the last show I converted a couple of them and liked them so much I converted the whole set over. If you did not yet give Silver Efex Pro II a try, you can download the free demo here and it will work with Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture. B&H Photo also sells Silver Efex Pro 2 if you want the hard CD copy and box.

This is not really a review of SIlver Efex Pro II as it is best to just download the free demo to try it for yourself. What I will show you is the images I shot at this huge show in Brussels and every one of them was converted using Silver Efex. Dare I say it? I find some of these pretty film like, so it seems to be doing its job. Hope you enjoy the images as  these are without a doubt my favorite images I have shot of Seal performing to date!

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Jun 262011
 

Walking in Brussels Belgium with the Fuji X100 and M9

Brussels Belgium, what an interesting and beautiful place. I have been here for about 4-5 days now and it is starting to feel like my home. I’m even heading down the street to a laundromat to wash some clothes, lol. Every day that I have been here I have taken walks but almost every day it has been rainy and grey outside. I am looking forward to getting some sunshine soon on this tour…maybe Italy or France? Maybe Russia? Who knows, but I am looking forward to some sun!

With the new firmware update loaded on the X100 I have been motivated to take it out for a spin, so I did just that yesterday and today. The camera still operates the same, but Fuji did add some new features and sped up the menu screens a bit. I also brought along my M9 because there was no way I was leaving it behind in the room to be lonely.

I will be leaving Brussels tomorrow morning but am looking forward to the next stop in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Oh, and to Ernie, it was great meeting you last night! Your book is AMAZING and I will have it back to you in the AM before we head out. Thanks!

Before I left for my walk I snapped this from my Hotel window. Fuji X100 – I converted it to B&W using Silver Efex Pro II

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Another couple of X100 shots where I used Silver Efex Pro , which is a great B&W converter plug in.

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This is part of a shopping mall, with storefronts on both the left and right sides.  X100.

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The town Square has some beautiful architecture. This is the stuff I have only seen in movies, and now I am actually here!

X100

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X100

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X100

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All of the rest of the photos are with the Leica M9 and 35 Cron, 50 Nocti or 24 Lux

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Jun 222011
 

Know your camera and you can do great things…

By Steve Huff

So last night I was shooting the Seal show in Vilnius Lithuania and upon arriving to the venue I realized it was going to be my biggest challenge yet for shooting. Why? Well, the arena was sort of drab, dark, and dull AND I was sort of forced to shoot SUPER close to the stage, like, right up against it. To add to that, the stage was VERY high up, almost as tall as me, so I knew any shot I took would be from a bad angle. What to do? How about throw on a 24 Summilux to the M9 and hope for the best? Yea, thats it. Luckily I had a 24 in my bag.

I decided to use the 24 because I KNOW my camera, and I knew exactly what kind of results I would get from slapping on a 24mm lens in the situation I was in. I also knew how the 24 Summilux would render and how I could get away with slow shutter speeds due to the M9’s capabilities with a steady hand.

The fill in temporary drummer Obed at sound check.  24 Summilux at 1.4 on the Leica M9

For most shows I shoot the 50 Noctilux 90% of the time but last night I shot the 24 Lux 90% and the results are quite different, but I like it. I liked it so much that after the show I was inspired to write yet another article, this time on “knowing your camera”. How many of you really know your camera? I mean, really know it? I know I do, and that helps me out more than you know!

Do you know what settings give you the best results for different situations? Do you know what lens will give you the best result for a given circumstance? Do you know its ISO performance max limits and the way to get the best images you can from it? Have you “bonded” with your camera? Yes, BONDED.  It sounds strange but I know there are many of you reading this who do indeed have a certain bond, a certain “oneness” with your camera. I know I have this with my M9, and I am actually starting to get there with the Fuji X100.

Shooting the 24 meant I had to be CLOSE, and since I was stuck up next to the tall stage I knew I could get some dramatic shots and great audience interactions.

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Once you have this “bond” with your camera you can shoot without stress, without worry, without hassle. You go by instinct and by “seeing” and “doing”. When I walk around the crowd or near the stage I am always looking for the next shot, and at the same time I try my best to not repeat myself every single night. The last thing I want is to stress about settings or lenses or whatever. By having this bond with my Leica, I do not have ANY worries when the night starts as I know that as long as my camera is working, I will have many opportunities to capture the spirit of the performance.

The 24 Lux ROCKED last night in Vilnius! As always, I shoot these lenses as they were meant to be shot, wide open!

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My job on this tour, if you can call it a job (I don’t as it’s been my lifelong passion..a dream come true) is to document this tour while I am along for the ride. Concert shots, video, behind the scenes stuff..whatever I can capture. Seal is not really my boss, but rather a great friend who puts ZERO stress on me and gives me 100% creative control on what to shoot. With that said, I always strive to do my best every show even though when I look at my photos I usually only end up really liking one or two shots. But as may of you know, as photographers we are always overly critical of our own work.

But as I said earlier, by really KNOWING my camera gear I can let my mind be free and just shoot organically. Does that make sense? I hope so.

So how does one bond with their camera? First, you have to really like your tool of choice. You have to enjoy holding it, shooting it, controlling it. If you do not even like your camera then it will be very hard to get this bond. The most important thing for me is to really enjoy USING the camera. This is why I am such a HUGE fan of the Leica M series. Film or digital, the usability factor is HIGH and once you know it inside and out you can shoot quicker and more effectively with an all manual M9 than even an auto focus blazing DSLR.

The 24 Lux with the M9 sitting on the stage captures Gus Isidore  – love the rendering of the 24 on the M9. Gorgeous.

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Again, the 24 Lux wide open. We met this Mother & Daughter the day before while street shooting and here they are in the front row.

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Of course I did slap the 50 Noct on every now and then…

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Knowing my camera allowed me to get this shot of Seals silhouette.

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To bond with your camera you also have to know its menu system. Learn it, know it and set it..them FORGET IT. I never change anything in my M9’s menu, ever. It is set the same as it was months ago. This way I know EXACTLY what to expect from it. No surprises. Again, when you know what to expect, you have that freedom to capture without the stress of technical details. Stress free shooting equals better images IMO.

In order to really connect with your photographic tool, you also need to be passionate about photography. If you have a true desire to shoot and create then you are 90% of the way there.

Once you have the passion along with a camera you really enjoy using, and you know its menu system and have set it up to your liking, then it is all about SHOOTING as much as possible. Before you know it you will have that connection with your camera.

Also learn all of the characteristics of your lenses. For this shot I knew the Noctilux would give me this amazing flare, and IMO it adds to the atmosphere of the shot.

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Also knowing your depth of field – what will be and wont be in focus is key to creating images that match the vision you have in your head.

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Carol Jarvis rocking out during “Amazing” – check her out on facebook HERE and press like!

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I get asked all of the time how I create these photos with a manual camera. How they are so sharp, focused correctly and capture the feeling of the show. I’m not any kind of photography master, far from it. I chalk it up to really knowing my gear and my passion for what I do. SO stick with your camera and learn it, live it and take it with you everywhere. Before you know it, you will have that same bond with it and your photos will improve dramatically.

Hope you enjoyed the post! I am leaving for Brussels Belgium in 2 hours so have to get packing! I’ll leave you with a few more shots from last nights show…

Paul Summerlin, a new and awesome addition to Seals band as well as guitarist Mark Summerlins brother!

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How about a shot from the Fuji X100? Here ya go! f/2! BTW, the title image at the very top of this page was also from the X100. Seems to do quite well but I can focus my M faster every time.

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after the show its all about winding down, having fun and hanging out for a while

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Jun 222011
 

 

A Photographic Road Trip with the Leica X1 by D.J. De La Vega

This is the story of a photographic road trip with the Leica X1. Like any journey, I will start at the beginning:

Everything was now in place for a road trip of ambitious proportions. The logistics: I would be leaving my hometown in the North East of England to head off to Edinburgh, Scotland. From there I would fly to Newark Airport in the USA. Over the next four days I would drive over 1000 miles to Alexandria Bay, Oswego, Webster, Niagara and all the back to Manhattan for three days of Street Shooting. This was a deliberately photogenic route, mainly following the Great Lake Seaway Trail, a stunning byway that hugs the shore of Lake Ontario.

Here at the start of my voyage lay my first challenge: What camera gear to take? Approximately five years ago when I went on a slightly more modest trip around the Highlands of Scotland I took a Nikon D200, 12-24mm, 18-200mm, 50mm, 60mm macro and 70-300mm. I was prepared for every possible eventuality. With this in mind however, a wise man once said “If you aim at everything, you hit nothing”.

This time around I was seriously considering leaving all my equally extensive kit at home and only carry my unassuming Leica X1. With no huge telephoto, no super wide angle and a mediocre macro mode, it is on paper not necessarily cut out for such a diverse photographic expedition. However as my DSLR gear was now gathering dust after sitting in a bag, rendered obsolete by more than a year spent exclusively shooting with the little Leica, I went with my gut and decided just to take the X1.

So there I was packed and ready to leave with the X1 in hand. This was my first shot of the morning waiting to get on the train to Scotland. Instantly this photograph put me at ease with my decision to leave the DSLR and plethora of lenses behind. The prospect of being limited to such an iconic focal length now excited me. It would be my photographic skills I would be exploring and not the effectiveness of different lenses for different situations.

Upon arrival in Edinburgh a world of picturesque opportunities were unfolding and presenting themselves exclusively for me and the X1. At this stage of my article I will point out how difficult it has been to edit down the photographs I have taken as I have got so many shots I regard as “keepers”. Even though I eventually took slightly more than 10 GB worth of photographs over the week (I shoot RAW), the number of camera actuations was far less than I ever imagined. Historically with a DSLR I would shoot and shoot and not stop: and why should I? Instantaneous shutter response, full automatic setting with a gazillion auto focus points, million area multi matrix metering and unlimited space on Compact Flash cards. It was the equivalent of wielding a photographic machine gun!

It only took a few hours of shooting the street in Edinburgh to dawn on me that I take far fewer photographs with this camera. Was it a conscious effort as it is a slower camera and shooting fully manual takes more time and creativity to get a good shot? Or was it a sub conscious side effect of shooting in a simpler, more traditional, historic style? Whatever it is, I do it and I like the results. I no longer shoot endless photographs of the same subject. I spot a moment take a shot and if I miss it, I move onto the next opportunity.

The next morning it was time to hop on the plane and embark on the biggest leg of the journey. Once I safely landed in New Jersey, there was no time to lose. It was straight in the car and drive approximately 350 miles north to the beautiful town of Alexandria Bay. Arriving at dusk I was greeted by a spectacular sunset over Heart Island.

Over the next two days I was immersed in stunning nature and beautiful scenery travelling down the Great Lakes Seaway Trail. I was enthralled by the local architecture, mesmerised by the iconic landscapes and enamoured with the more intimate secluded bays and forest trails.

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So far I had not once missed the lenses I left behind. Without doubt, if I had a 12mm Nikon, I would have probably found use for it, but would it have made a better photograph or just a different one? I began to realise that historically I had probably spent more time chopping and changing lenses for particular applications than I did actually shooting with any one lens. By not having to decide which focal length to use, my mind was purely focused on capturing the opportunities that materialised before me; documenting them as I saw them with no distractions.

Eventually I found myself at the magnificent Niagara Falls. Sometimes I find it difficult to photograph such a famous, well documented landscape as I am constantly aware that millions of people will have taken the exact same shot from the exact same angle. I tried as always to look for unique perspectives and idiosyncratic moments, but also believe if I am somewhere with my camera, it is far better for me to create my own postcard style picture of such an iconic scene than buy someone else’s off a rack.

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Another lengthy drive was now required to head south to Manhattan. I was looking forward to finally getting to test the X1 in the area many people would either argue it was specifically built for or quarrel it just could not compete with its M siblings; Street Photography. How would this handy travel companion hold up in the city renowned for its street scenes? I’ll let you be the judge as to how successful the results are, but in practice, I’ve got to say the X1 coped admirably. This camera is a joy to use and because of its size and weight can be around your neck every waking minute of the day; at hand waiting patiently to be deployed as an extension of your eye at the presentation of something noteworthy enough to point a camera at. Its speed was more than adequate to capture pretty much everything I asked of it and if I missed a shot it was because I did not spot it early enough and by the time I had raised the camera, the moment had passed.

I quickly realised as I walked through the streets that I could very quickly drain my batteries with all the colourful characters and photogenic happenings at every turn. It was time to go old school and really test how good the X1 is at capturing the street as an unadulterated photographic tool. It was time to turn off the LCD and image review and rely solely on the 36mm Brightline Viewfinder. Shooting away at my heart’s content only to review the images that night in retrospect. No second chances, no reshooting the same scene over and over. I shot mostly in aperture priority mode and one spot centre weighted focusing. I would focus on the desired object and reframe the scene with my finger half pressed on the shutter. I found this to be a quick and efficient means of capturing the moment.

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I was beginning to realise why so many people shoot the street in New York. The people here are a diverse mix of too laid back and too darn busy to be concerned that people were brandishing cameras about. I felt a lot more freedom than in my native England to get close the action and throw caution to the wind. The 35mm focal length was absolutely coming into its own! As I explored the city I found Central Park to be a hub of extroverted characters and wondrous and quaint occurrences.

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As well as photographing the superb photographic opportunities that transpire with the people in NYC, it would have been a crime not to document the city itself. The architecture is so magnificent it has a personality of its own. Like at Niagara, I constantly tried to find a compromise between the iconic postcard views and more unique perspectives. Theoretically one could argue that there are no “unique” perspectives any more, but that would be quite a depressing, sombre philosophy for any photographer to subsist with.

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Of all the areas I ambled upon in Manhattan, possibly the most vibrant and rewarding was that of The Bowery and China Town. The people and ambience somehow felt more “authentic”. It was a long way from Central Park with the brazen street performers and therefore sometimes I had to work up the courage to lift up the camera to my eye. However I soon defeated my nerves and I found the X1 to be quite inconspicuous and my confidence grew allowing me to get closer to the action.

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Regrettably I had reached my last evening in Manhattan. I had loved every minute of shooting the street with the X1 and had not once bemoaned its ability to capture any given scene. I appreciate it is not as fast at focusing as a DSLR, and the viewfinder is only optical, no electronic information is transmitted across to reassure you as to what you are capturing. Yet it is specifically this simplicity that feels truly organic for me in using this practical, no-nonsense photographic instrument. I choose the shutter speed, aperture, ISO and then frame the glass through a glass viewfinder then shoot; fundamental photography at its best.

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Thanks for reading my article if you made it this far. You can check out some of my other Leica X1 experimentation and photography here:

http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2010/09/03/daily-inspiration-142-by-d-j-de-la-vega/

http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2011/01/06/daily-inspiration-183-by-d-j-de-la-vega/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/djdelavega

All the best

D.J. De La Vega

The Leica X1 is available through Dale Photo, Ken Hansen and B&H Photo!

Jun 212011
 

News Update

The new Leica M9-P and 21 Super Elmar 3.4 lens

As many of you have known for a while now, Leica is getting ready to announce the Leica M9-P camera which is basically an M9 with Sapphire Glass, no Leica red dot logo or “M9″ engraving so the front looks like an MP. The one I have held and seen was chrome and it is flat out amazingly gorgeous. The top is inscribed like an MP with the Leica name. There will be no new features to the camera, just an M9 with cosmetic enhancements and sapphire glass. If I could swap my grey M9 with some cash for an M9-P I would in a heartbeat. It looks like an MP, and in chrome but with Vulcanite. It really is a gorgeous looking and feeling camera. I may see one of these in my future as THIS is what a digital M should look like!

Leica is also announcing the 21 3.4 Super Elmar wide angle lens. This lens is all about size and it is TINY. I have also seen and handled this lens already and it is a beauty. If you want a small 21 for landscape or architecture be sure to put this one on your short list.

As far as I know, that is about all that is coming from Leica today. I heard that the M9-P will also be available in Black Paint, which will also be pretty sweet. The official word comes from Leica later today in Paris!

UPDATE

ITS NOW OFFICIAL! PRESS RELEASE –

THE NEW LEICA M9-P: THE ESSENCE OF DISCRETION

Designed particularly for professional photographers, new ultra-discreet version of the Leica M9 added to Leica rangefinder portfolio

Solms, Germany (June 21, 2011) – Leica Camera AG is proud to present a new version of the world’s smallest, full-frame digital system camera: the Leica M9-P. This new model will sit alongside the Leica M9 in the company’s rangefinder portfolio. Providing an alternative, even more discreet and resilient design that further reinforces the classic nature of the M9, the M9-P specifically meets the needs of professional photographers. The new model is now available in a classic silver chrome or subtle black paint finish.

Featuring the compact size, full-frame, 18 megapixel 24 x 36mm sensor (35mm format), sophisticated image processing and robust construction of the highly successful Leica M9, the M9-P also incorporates features designed for professional users or photographers who prefer a pure, even more unobtrusive styling.

The Leica M9-P includes a scratch-resistant, sapphire crystal covering on the LCD screen. Produced using special diamond cutting tools, this screen is fashioned from one of the world’s hardest and most resilient materials. Extremely resistant to wear and almost unbreakable, the sapphire glass LCD cover offers many years of reliable use. Additionally, the anti-reflective coating on both sides of the cover improves the review of images on the display after capture, particularly in unfavorable lighting conditions.

Finished in vulcanite leatherette, the external covering of the body of the M9-P is particularly resistant to wear. This leathering features a more coarsely-textured finish that ensures a steadier grip when shooting, making the M9-P feel particularly safe and secure in the hand.

Fulfilling the needs of many professional photographers to capture the decisive moment as discretely as possible, the Leica M9-P’s minimalist styling highlights its most essential features. The Leica red dot logo and the M9 lettering on the front have been omitted and replaced with the Leica name in classic script form engraved on the top plate, making the M9-P the quintessential unobtrusive tool.

Since 1954, the Leica M-System has represented an unmistakable, individual kind of photography and a very conscious photographic style and allowed photographers to capture, document and interpret life’s fleeting moments in all fields of photography, from photojournalism, reportage and ‘available light’ to the capture of portraits and aesthetic, fine-art images. With a Leica M, the photographer becomes a ‘part of the action’ when capturing challenging, authentic and creative images. The frame lines frame precisely the shot the photographer envisages, while allowing a clear view of the scene outside the viewfinder frame.

The functions of the Leica M are consistently constructed for extreme durability and a long working life. The highest quality materials, intricate manufacturing processes and meticulous manual assembly at Leica Camera’s facility in Germany guarantee functional reliability for years to come.

The Leica M9-P will be available from Leica dealers in two different finishes, black paint or traditional silver chrome, beginning July 2011.

Jun 212011
 

Vilnius Lithuania – My walk through this photogenic town

By Steve Huff

So here I am today..another day of serious photo opportnities! I am in Vilnius Lithuania for the next stop on the Seal European summer tour and yesterday I walked around quite a bit snapping shots of this lovely charming town. Had my Fuji X100 (new firmware rumored to be coming within the week) and Leica M9 with me and both gave me wonderful results, can’t complain about either of these lovely cameras.

I started the day early morning as the weather was brisk, cool, and sunny. In other words, PERFECT! Back home in Phoenix it is 110 and sunny so I am really enjoying this weather while I can get it! As I looked out of my hotel window I thought “Perfect Photo Weather”!

BTW, I am also staying at a beautiful hotel here in town and had to snap a couple as I left my room. Love the old world charm of this place.

Next three shots, M9 and 35 Summicron ASPH – THE 35 Cron Character shines through here…

As I made my way down the stairs and outside of the hotel I started snapping the little X100 quite a bit as I started to become addicted to its ease of use and lovely EVF. Also, after shooting it so much, I have really learned its strengths and its weaknesses. As I have always stated,  It is in NO WAY like shooting an M9 but  it’s also a joy to use, and the output is astoundingly great at times.

CLICK for larger version – X100 at its sweet spot, f/4

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Even f/2 works well on the X100 and can be a sweet spot at the right distance. With a 35, you do have to get up close to your subjects! I thought the dog was gonna eat my X100…

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X100 – f/2

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X100 – f/4

X100 – f/4

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Bring on the M!

I then started to shoot with the M9 to see how the difference in usability and feel would be. Ahhhh, when the M hit my hands I remembered why I love rangefinder shooting so much. Not to knock the Fuji as it is THE camera right now but  the M and me just seem to “jive”.

Click image for 1200 pixel wide version – M9 and 35 at f/2 – colors…WOW!

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and I did take the same shot with the Fuji though at 2.8 -

After a while I started to get hungry AND thirsty so I found a street cafe, picked a good seat to people watch and then ordered a beer. Was amazingly nice to just sit there and say to myself , “Wow..I am in Lithuania!”

So there I was, just me and my M9/35 Cron when a guy walks by and does a double take, looking at me. He asked if I was Steve Huff, and after a quick introduction it turned out he is a fan and reader of this web site! HOW COOL IS THAT!

He sat down and chatted for about an hour, had a beer and I enjoyed a pretty tasty pizza. Terry, it was great to meet you and THANK YOU for your company! I always enjoy meeting the readers of the web site and photo fans in general (and I can not wait for the Seattle meet up in July!!)

Terry mentioned that he recently picked up an M8 and 35 Cron, and from what it sounded like, he is enjoying it quite a bit.

Terry at lunch – M9/35 cron

 

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Rain Rain go Away, but bring good light!

While at lunch it started pouring rain horribly so I tried to wait it out a bit but it just kept coming down. I hung around the cafe and tried to find a photo but with everyone scurrying away from the rain, there really was nothing to shoot. I ran back to the hotel as my M9 got soaked, but it survived as did I :) Who needs weather sealing? Haha.

After an hour or two back in the room I heard from Seal via text and we ended up taking a photo stroll through the town, after the rain stopped. I attached the trusty Nocti to my M9 and I have to say…the Noctilux seems to just always provide crazy magic and YES INDEED it can be used as an everyday lens, as that is how I have been using it. This new version is absolutely stunning at any aperture.

Wide open – Seal enjoying some magic light time with his M9 and 90 Summarit, which he is loving.

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Lots of dogs in Vilnius – this little yorky was having a good old time while the dude was giving me a thumbs up

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Fashion in Vilnius – lots of cool people. This one was shot from the hip wide open at 0.95! Man I am SKILLED! Lucky!

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As we walked we met Sylvia and Laura who were hanging outside of a restaurant chatting.

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and as we walked further we started getting approached every 20 feet or so. These sisters were very sweet girls.

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EVERYONE we met was lovely and happy, which was so cool. Seal signed some autographs and took pictures with fans as we continued our walk..

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After a 3 1/2 hour walk and some dinner we headed back to the hotel. That is when I realized I had been shooting the whole day. It flew by though because taking photos is what I love to do most and I feel amazingly blessed to be here and to be able to fulfill my passion every single day. Sharing that same passion with great friends is even better!

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed the photos from my day in Vilnius Lithuania!

Jun 192011
 

Looks like Leica is rolling out the special editions! The M9-P Hammertone was seen last week, and now there is one with a special edition CHROME Noctilux. Wow…that is going to be one hell of  pricey rig. To see all of the info on these special edition M’s, even a new film MP3..the CLICK HERE!. Skimpy thin wallets need not apply (that would be me). Haha.

Jun 192011
 

Seal in Parnu Estonia 2011: Challenges & Rewards of shooting concerts without a Zoom

By Steve Huff

Happy Sunday morning to all! Don’t you just love Sundays? I usually DO love them because Sunday is usually my lazy day off. This way I wake up on Monday energized and ready to post something new to this very web site. As I write this though, it IS in fact Sunday and I have some free time today after shooting a Seal show last night in Parnu, Estonia.

At this moment, I’m sitting here in my hotel room for the last day in Tallinn, Estonia. We will all leave here in about 5 hours for the airport to head to Lithuania for the next show. Just last night (Saturday) I shot the 1st show of the tour in Parnu, Estonia and right off the bat let me say WOW WOW WOW! This was a VERY energetic and fast flowing show.

Instead of just posting images from the show, this time I wanted to write a little but about the challenges of shooting a concert without zooms…meaning only prime lenses. Also, I am not posting every image I shot at this show in this post. More can be seen at SEAL.COM if you are interested in seeing more from the Parnu show. I also have my Seal 2011 gallery HERE if you want to see my fave past shots. So, on to this post…

It all started with Sound check as the band went through a few tunes with Seal… as always, click the images for better versions.

This one was shot with the 90 Summicron Leica sent me to borrow for this tour. Even with the slight misfocus, I love this image. In fact, I prefer it slightly out of focus.

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on the other hand, for this tour my Noctilux has been tuned up and is focusing like a champ…

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Holly Palmer – one of the new backup singers for the show

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For this summer European tour there have been some band changes and additions and I have to say, I have never heard Seal sound better live. Maybe it was the fact that it was still bright outside at 10pm, or maybe it was just that crazy excitement of the first show of the tour that energized everyone, because the whole band was in top form.

1st pic: Me just before showtime all geared up.

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J.R. – Fuji X100 – He was wantig to buy my X100 and offered me $1350 on the spot but I turned down the offer :) I do believe Seal sold him one though as he had an extra.

I had my M9 along with a 24 Lux, 50 Noct and 90 Cron. Also had the X100 but it did not get used much at all, if at all. I only shot with it during the soundcheck. Why? Well, when you shoot a concert, or in my case, a tour, some days can be better than others.

Every day when I arrive to the venue I immediately look at the setup of the stage, wether or not there are barriers, and if I will have room up front to shoot. Sometimes, like this first show in Parnu, there were no barriers which means I had to try to squeeze my way through the crowd to get close enough to shoot. Getting in close is the best way to get shots when shooting with a 50 or 35, and to get more intimate images as well.

Sometimes the fans do not like this as they think I am just some gung ho photographer trying to push my way in front of them. I usually get an odd look or two when moving up, and sometimes, like yesterday, I could not position myself to where I really wanted to be because it was so crowded up front.

Be The Zoom

Shooting the shows with just a 50mm means that I HAVE TO BE THE ZOOM. I am fine with this as it is how I shoot, and how I always shoot but some nights are just tough to get the right angles. This makes some nights a real challenge, but I am always up for a challenge and welcome them. In fact, it pushes me harder to get better results with what whatever situation I am dealt with.

Seal in Parnu Estonia 2011 – M9 and the 50 Noct, all wide open at 0.95

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I Like to Keep It Simple

Many pro concert photographers have loads and loads of gear. Usually two pro DSLR’s, mass amounts of memory cards, lighting and flash equipment, triggers, and multitudes of lenses. They have cameras set up on stage and have full roaming access and can even position themselves ON stage! I am sure that with all of this equipment you can get some killer shots like THIS guy (love the Bon Jovi Elvis impersonation). I am sure if I wanted to lug around some pro Nikon gear and some super wides and mass zooms I could get some shots like that but upon closer inspection, I am not sure I would want to.

I am in no way knocking his work, hell,  he seems to kicks the pants off of me and his images capture the moment, excitement, and thrill of the show but personally, for me, I like more artistic personal types of shots. I love to play with the color, the depth of field as well as the emotion, and the sweat and excitement of the moment. I also don’t want some automated trigger and flash shooting my shots on stage. I guess I believe more in the Jim Marshall approach (RIP). He is the only concert shooter I have ever been inspired by, and back in his day he walked in with a couple of Leicas strapped to him and shot the show and the personal moments before and after.

Jim’s images with Hendrix, Cash, Dylan and Morrison have what I like to call “Soul”. Was it the Leica that had a hand in this? Not sure, but to me, Jim’s style managed to create classics.

Again, it is all about simplicity. With a simple tool such as a Leica M9 and one 50mm lens, magic can be made. No flash, no zooms, no auto focus. When you hit it, you hit it. When you don’t, you can even still walk away with a great photograph. Other times you walk away with nothing but when you do, it feels really great.

Seal In Parnu. I missed focus in the 1st shot but Seal was in a moment, and that moment was captured. Shooting something like the Nocti or even a 50 Summilux ASPH propels a shot from flat and boring to deep and emotional. The Silhouette is Seals fave shot of the Parnu show. It may also be mine. Why? Because it breaks free from the norm of most concert images.

Over 95% of concert photos I see were taken with Nikon or Canon with Zooms and Flashes. This kind of system will indeed provide you with an almost foolproof way of getting great shots but I have to say it…the results usually look like all of the other concert shots out there.

I have scoured and scoured the net and studied thousands or even tens of thousands concert images and almost all follow the same DSLR/FLASH/ZOOM formula. I could switch to that route but to me that would not be as rewarding, even if I only manage to capture one magical shot per show with my M compared to 20-30 with the gizmos and gadgets.

Before anyone starts commenting that I am a Leica fanboy, what I say can also be done with a D700 or 5D and a 50 1.4, or 85 1.4. Doesn’t have to be a Leica. I am just not into Zooms and flash.

All in all this article was supposed to be about the challenges of shooting concerts with prime lenses but it has seemed to kind of stray off track a bit due to my rambling. Basically, it really is a challenge to shoot a concert without a zoom but my take on it is that you will always get more creative results when you do so. Want to stick out from the crowd a bit? Use one camera, one fixed focal length, and use your body, eye, and mind to create the magic.

Not all of the great shots happen on stage. I always take a walk around during the show to see what is going on in the crowd. Nocti wide open.

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90 cron, f/2 (should have shot it a 2.8)

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So even though I can’t stand and zoom to compose my shot, even if I don’t have AF, and even if I do not always get a good position to shoot in and a ZOOM would be an easy way to get a shot, I still would not give up shooting the shows with the M9 and Noctilux, which is the perfect lens for this kind of work (IMO) and gives me many rewards back.

As I was sitting here writing this time has flown by and it is now time for me to pack and get everything together for the flight out. Until next time!

The f/0.95 flare…

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Jun 182011
 

Seal Tour Rehearsals are OVER, it’s almost SHOWTIME!

Sitting in my hotel room nearly 5000 miles away from home today and relaxing before the big night. I’m still in Tallinn getting prepared to shoot some photos and video at the kickoff Seal show tonight in Parnu, Estonia. It’s still strange to me that it is 9 am here and 11pm at home in Phx, AZ. Makes it tricky for talking with loved ones who I am already missing :)

This past week has been all rehearsals and preparing for the show. There have been some new additions to the band and I have to say that they sound incredible and pretty damn powerful. Hanging in Tallinn has also been a treat as the weather has been nice and cool, the people fantastic and the hotel and food wonderful. Also, photographing Tallinn has been AMAZING.

But now it’s time to get rolling as the first show of the Summer Europe tour starts in about 9 hours. For the next few weeks I will be shooting with the M9, 24 lux, 50 Noct and 90 Summicron for the concert photos along with a few here and there with the X100, to test out out in a concert setting. Also, I’ll be shooting some behind the scenes video with the Iphone and 8mm app which I think is pretty freaking amazing for an el cheap-o phone app.

Soon we will all be on the road bussing it across Europe. Should be many photo opps ahead :)

I may also shoot some video with the NEX or X100…we’ll see how that goes later. I’ll be posting some cool stuff every time I get a few hours and WiFi, so check back every day! I’ll leave you with a couple of shots from rehearsals…

Fuji X100 at ISO 3200 during rehearsals on Thursday

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Gus Isidore on Guitar – X100 at ISO 800 –  f/2

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Marcus Brown – bass/keys – M9 and Nocti wide open…

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With Carol Jarvis (Trombone/Keys/Vocals) – Nocti wide open

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Here is a shot taken with the M9 and a 50 Summilux PRE-ASPH at 1.4

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and another of guitar tech McBob with the Lux Pre-Asph at 1.4…

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New addition to the Band, Holly Palmer and Paul Summerlin

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Jun 172011
 

Is the Leica Noctilux a good choice as an every day lens?

Things to consider before making that purchase…

By Steve Huff

Over the past two years I have received at LEAST 100 e-mails asking me about the Leica Noctilux and if it would be a good choice as an ONLY lens for a Leica M system. Since many of my articles spawn from reader e-mails I decided to write up a short piece on shooting the Noctilux as an only lens, and if it is a wise choice to do so. Now of course this is all just my opinion so you can take it or leave it but I do have experience with just about EVERY Leica lens and both Noctilux versions, the f/1 and f/0.95.

The reason I have had that question come through my inbox so many times is because the current f/0.95 Noctilux is a $10,495 masterpiece of a lens and there are quite a few M9 owners out there who have thought of selling their three lens kit to fund just ONE 0.95 Noctilux. Let’s face it, no matter who you are $10,495 is loads of cash for just one 50mm camera lens! The more I think about it, the more crazy it sounds.

Leica Lenses have been great investments…

When I bought my old F1 Noctilux brand new about 6-7 years ago it was $3500 and I had a hard time justifying it then. Today at over $10k this lens is out of reach to most of us, but at the same time it’s qualities are so amazing and unique that many of you have considered selling off other things to fund it. Even that old f/1 version today sells for well over $5000 USED. I have seen it go for as high as $7000…used. So those who bought one new a few years back had some huge appreciation on the lens. Most fast Leica glass is like this these days, plus the Nocti is so damn hard to get I have even seen the new version sell for $13k used!

So the big question is this: Is the Leica Noctilux., F/1 or F/0.95, usable as an every day lens or is it too heavy and slow to focus?  Is it worth the cash?

The good news is that I will do my best to answer this based on MY experience with the lens, and will also be providing some new photo samples along the way. The bad news is that what is good for me and not good for me, may not be the same for you but read on to see what I think about this whole subject.

To see the images at their best, click on them to see the larger and better version

Leica M9 and Noctilux f/0.95 at f/2 – The colors this lens produces are simply delicious.

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There was a time when the only camera and lens I owned was a Leica MP along with the older Noctilux F/1, which is quite a bit smaller and lighter than the current Noctilux 0.95. I took that rig everywhere… shooting street, shooting portraits and just goofing around the house with it. When I purchased the M8, there was also a great while when all I had was a Noctilux. I remember falling in love with the lens after seeing what it could do. That old F/1 Nocti has some serious mojo going on with its classic and sometimes swirly Bokeh. You either love it or you don’t but I was one who really enjoyed it.

Thing to consider #1 – The Nocti is one heavy beast

These days, I am lucky and blessed enough own the new Noctilux f/0.95 and find it to be one of the best, if not the best lens I have ever shot with. It is quite amazing and special, and I really can’t afford any other fast Leica glass so many days it is just me and the huge heavy Monster. When on the camera it is VERY front heavy. The M9 with the Nocti is a beast of a machine but still lighter than something like a Nikon D700 and Zoom or big prime. It also happens to be THE MOST unique camera and lens combo EVER created for 35mm digital or analog. PERIOD.

But keep in mind that if you are considering buying this lens, or getting on a waiting list for one, that it is HEAVY and unlike most of  the small and light Leica glass you may have tried already. Also, while this lens is huge and heavy (for an M mount lens) it is built better than my freaking house and could also double as a weapon if you ever needed aid in self defense from someone trying to rob you of your camera. I mean, this thing could kill someone.

Shooting the Noctilux 0.95 wide open will usually make any subject look amazing :)

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and again, the rich colors just POP with a depth you normally do not find in other lenses…

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Thing to consider #2 – It’s a 50, and only a 50…

If you are considering this as an only lens, make sure you really enjoy the 50mm focal length. Some of you are 28 shooters, some are 35 and I suspsect MOST are 50mm shooters. This focal length is pretty much my fave along with a 35. Give me a 35 or 50 any day and I would be happy and easily adapt with just that one lens. A 50mm is good for many things..portraits, scenery, landscape, and everything in between. It’s like the jack of all trades in the lens world. The Noctilux also happens to be the best 50mm in the universe. The build, the exotic glass, the engineering and the love and care that goes in to assembly is what makes this lens so special.

Shoot it at f/0.95 or fully stopped down and you just get breathtaking performance. My Nocti was just in for calibration (needed an adjustment as it was 2+ years old and used all over the world..banged, beaten and a true workhorse) and it is now SCARY good. I now never miss focus, EVER! What I see is what I get in my VF. It’s always so nice to have an M system with the camera and lenses in perfect calibration!

As a side note, Some of you may remember a couple months back when I was in Brazil and I put up a test between the 50 Summicron and the Noctilux. It showed the Nocti was soft when I shot it at infinity. MUCH softer than the 1/5th price Summicron. Well, the reason for that was, and I know this now, is that my Nocti was out of alignment. Now that it is fixed it will not only match the cron, but would beat it for color, contrast and smoothness.

No more focus errors with my Nocti…it’s now PERFECT

So if you are OK with the lens being heavy and only a 50mm and are still lusting after it then you are half way there :)

Thing to consider #3 – It has a long focus throw, so can take more time to focus…

When you shoot this lens wide open at f/0.95 you have to be precise with your focus and Leica knows this. If you are even slightly off when you focus then your shot will just not give you that classic pop and 3D depth you expect from a lens of this caliber. I have to say that there is all of this nonsense online that has been spread around for years now that this lens is hard to focus. THIS IS NOT TRUE! If your lens and body are calibrated to Leica specs then this lens is just as easy to focus as any other fast 50. If you can line up your focus in the RF patch and you glass is calibrated correctly then your images will be in focus.

Sure at 0.95 there is shallow depth of field but I have NO problem achieving focus though the focus “throw” is long. What does  this mean? It means instead of turning the focus ring a very short distance to focus, you will have to turn it more and more as the focus patch will move slowly, so you can be precise and not over or undershoot your focus. This is a good thing in that respect, but if this is your only lens then you may need a bit of practice before you get used to it. On the street I can focus a 50 Summicron or Summilux quicker but again, I will not get that Nocti look from either of those lenses, though the 50 Summilux ASPH can at times come close.

This is a JPEG right from the M9. The Nocti has a way of producing images that are smooth but have amazing depth. The color is also outstanding.

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Wide open and well calibrated this lens is nothing short of perfection

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If you are ok with the long focus throw, then there is only really ONE last thing to consider if you are thinking of making this your ONLY lens.

Thing to consider #4 – $10,495…are  you ready to get serious?

This lens is the most expensive 35mm lens EVER to be sold. It is also the most unique but it is so priced out of the range of so many people, which in turn, makes it so unique. If everyone owned a Nocti 0.95 then the lens would not be so special anymore as the web would be filled with Noctilux shots! Leica knows what they are doing and they price this lens the way they need to but does that mean you are ready to plunk down almost $11,000 to fund the fastest lens in the world, possibly selling off other lenses to do so?

If you are in love with the Noctilux “look” and 50mm is your focal length, and you do not mind the weight and slow focus throw AND you won’t feel sick in the morning after spending $11000 on a camera lens, then GO FOR IT! While the weight sometimes gets to me, it is still better than walking around with a huge hulking DSLR around your neck and the results can be quite spectacular. This lens is the worlds best 50mm lens for the 35mm format and if you love your Leica M, there is no more satisfying lens than the Nocti.

Besides, you could always buy the Noctilux and a cheaper Voigtlander 35 so you have another focal length. The Nocti is magic, plain and simple but it will not be everyones cup of tea. It is one of those “lifetime” lenses, and who knows..in 10 years it may be worth $20,000 :)

Im gearing up as tomorrow night me and my Nocti will be shooting the 1st Seal show of this tour in Parnu Estonia. Can’t wait to shoot it now that it is all calibrated and focusing PERFECTLY!

I will leave you with a few more shots from today around Tallinn Estonia where we are staying until Sunday. Enjoy! If you have a Noctilux, new or old, leave a comment and let me know what YOU enjoy about this special lens. In my opinion, it is one of the things that make the M9 so special, just because you can mount this lens! The Fuji X100 can NOT do that.

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AND A FULL SIZE OUT OF CAMERA FILE AT 1.4 FOR THOSE WHO SAY THE NOCT ISNT AS GOOD AS A LUX ASPH AT 1.4 – FROM RAW – NO OTHER 50 1.4 CAN DO ANY BETTER – CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE SHOT

 

Jun 162011
 

Crazy Comparison! The Leica M9 with 35 Summicron vs the Fuji X100

By Steve Huff

I have been getting emails for a few weeks now asking me to post some full size images from the Leica M9/35 Summicron vs the Fuji X100…side by side shots, same settings, etc. What some of you want to see is just how the little X100 stacks up against the Leica $10,000 combo in the image quality department. This comparison will ONLY be on image quality as the usability of each camera is WAY different.

The M9 is a manual rangefinder camera and the Fuji is pretty much a point & shoot, though a very nice point & shoot. I have been shooting both while here in Tallinn, Estonia and I have to say that the little X100 has been a joy to use. Quick, easy, and reliable. I can’t help but imagine what would happen if Fuji released this in all black WITH the capability of interchangeable lenses. Something like an X200 with a 24, 35, 50 and 90 f2 set of lenses. Wow.

On the other hand, the Leica M9 still shoots and feels like a “real” camera. I have  that “bond” with it that is hard to beat. When you have this bond, and the took becomes a part of your eyes and brain, then it is  tough to beat in actual use. BUT, if the Fuji can come close to the M9 and 35 cron, it would be cheaper to buy an X100 instead of a 35 and take the savings for another lens! Then again, if you own and love your M9 and have no need for a 2nd camera, then the 35 cron would be the best bet as it is a superb lens as is every Leica 35mm.

Also, let me note that my M9 and lenses just came back from Leica last week where they calibrated the camera and lenses, so the focus is dead on.

Lets see how it goes…

Before I get to the pictures I have to say that Tallinn has been AMAZING! Such an awesome place to just walk and roam. I walked 8 miles yesterday, and a few hours today and enjoyed every second of it. From the cobblestone streets of Old Town to the even more scenic things we saw off the beaten path. Tallinn Estonia is full of life, great people and GREAT light!

The images below were converted from RAW using Adobe Camera Raw. You can see the full size file by clicking on the images (for those that have a full size file).

Ok, first up..FULL SIZE FILE COMPARISONS with CROPS

Leica M9 – f/2 – click image for full size RAW conversion

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Fuji X100 – f/2 – click image for full size RAW conversion

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Leica M9 – f/4 – click for full size image

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Fuji X100 – f/4  – click for full size

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Leica M9 – Click for FULL size image! I have to admit, I prefer the X100 version!

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Fuji X100 – f2.8 – click image for full size

and the crops if you cant download the full file..

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Leica M9 – f/2 – click image for full size

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Fuji X100 – f/2 – Click image for full size (see the slight distortion)?

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Lets stop it down….Leica M9 – f8 – click image for full size!

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Fuji X100 – f/8

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and some crops. You can see the M9 gets the prize for detail but at $1200 for the X100 and $10k for the M9, in the IQ department, the Fuji does quite well.

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So what are your thoughts?

My thoughts are that the X100 is quite the little camera if shooting 35mm is your thing! Sure, the M9 is better but is it $8800 better in regards to Image Quality alone? NO it is not. Add to this that the high ISO is better on the X100 and this makes the X100 the buy of the freaking year in digital camera land.

My M9 is not going anywhere though :)

A Fun Test – Can you tell which image came from which camera?

The EXIF info is intact so you can cheat, and I am not doing this as any sort of contest but look over the following images and see if you can tell which came from which camera. When sized down (you can click them for a larger 1400 pixel wide version) it gets tougher to  see the differences.

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My quick thoughts on the IMAGE QUALITY ONLY of the M9/35 and X100..

  • M9 files are bigger, more megapixels at 18 vs 12
  • M9 files will be somewhat smoother and noise free at full 100% view
  • Metering seems spot on with the X100 due to its three metering modes
  • White Balance is better on the X100, no question
  • M9 files can be sharper if focus is nailed
  • X100 has some distortion, 35 cron doesn’t really have any!

Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments below! If you are looking to buy an X100, you can try HERE or HERE. The M9 can be found HERE, HERE or through Ken Hansen at [email protected]!

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Jun 152011
 

New Leica M9 Firmware is out now, but not anything major.

Hello to all! I’m still in Tallin Estonia and my sleep schedule is all kinds of messed up! I’ve been in bed by 8PM and up by 3AM, and it is 10 hours later here than back home, but I am slowly acclimating to the changes. I feel great today and realized that I did not post yet about the new Leica M9 firmware update that was released earlier today/yesterday.

Actually, I have been shooting the new firmware for about a month but never noticed any differences because this update really only affects those who shoot wide angle lenses.

Here is the details of the new firmware update for the M9:

 

1. Camera Performance:

Improvement of the sensor homogeneity for wide-angle lenses There is an additional colour calibration for all wide-angle lenses, that minimizes chromatic deviations

between image centre and image corner, especially in critical shooting situations.  Optimization of internal processes

To assure the general system stability, internal software processes have been optimized.

2. Bug fixes:

Improvements in Italian translations

Some test shots with a 24 Summilux and firmware 1.162

I just so happen to have a Leica 24 Summilux on hand (not mine, but wish it was) for my trip so I shot a few images with it yesterday using the new firmware. Color seems great and I see no issues on the edges so I guess the new FW is working well, which is great for all wide shooters. BTW, the 24 Lux is soooooo good on the M9. Can’t wait to shoot it at the first Seal show on Saturday in Parnu, Estonia in hopes to get some great audience interaction shots.

Click any of the images for larger versions and they will look much better!

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and the image below can be clicked on to see the full size image from RAW. This 24 is sooooo good on the M9!! Now I want one again…lol.

Coming in the next few days…

More street shooting along with some commentary on how I go about it.

Cool guest article on shooting the Leica X1 in New York City

More from the 24 Summilux ASPH on the Leica M9

The Daily Inspirations will start back up!

and…

The Leica 35 Summicron vs Fuji X100!

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Jun 142011
 

A Photo Stroll in Tallinn Estonia with the X100 and M9

By Steve Huff

What a crazy last couple of days..

I am now in Tallinn Estonia! I survived 26 hours of airports and air travel and then woke up this morning at 4 AM to head out and shoot in this lovely town. I flew out here to Europe to document Seals Summer  tour and between shows I plan on shooting some personal street stuff as well. The sights, the sounds, the buildings, and the people…wherever I go!

As we walked the streets at 4:30 AM it was quiet, peaceful and LIGHT. Odd because the night before I noticed it was still light out at 11PM at night when I woke up for a bit. Pretty crazy when you are so used to the sun going down by 6 or 7.

But Tallinn is a beautiful place full of photo opportunities and I am hoping to shoot a bit more here before we leave. I just wanted to post and share some shots I snapped with the Leica M9 and 35 Cron as well as the little Fuji X100, which did fantastic!

Enjoy! Click any image for larger and better version, and I will be posting more later. Thanks for looking!

This one was snapped with the X100 wide open.

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Fuji X100 – f/4 – JPEG

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Fuji X100 – f/4

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Leica M9 and 35 Summicron at f/2.8

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Leica M9 and 35 Summicron

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M9 and 35 cron

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Fuji X100

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Leica M9 and 35 Summicron

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Fuji X100

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Fuji X100, F/2

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Leica M9 and Noctilux at f/0.95

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Leica M9 and Noctilux at f/0/95

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Fuji X100

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Fuji X100


 

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