Mar 042011
 

The Friday Film: A Look Back at a Classic! The Leica CM Zoom.

By Steve Huff

Yea! The Friday film is back for today, March 4th 2011! It’s been a while since  I shot film and I have to say I missed it! A few months ago I had some extreme financial issues and had to sell off my MP, M9, and almost everything I owned. All I was left with photography related was a fridge with about 12 rolls of film in it. Ugg. The good news is that in the past few months I have been concentrating on this website more and more as well as getting things back that I lost. I once again own an X1, soon to own an M9 again, and even a Fuji X100. But what was really unexpected was having the chance to own this little Leica CM red leather zoom camera. A camera that I have eyeballed for YEARS but never jumped on. To be honest, back in 2003 I wanted THIS Leica CM with the 40mm f2.4 lens and even had it in my cart at B&H Photo a few times. I never did pull the trigger though!

So here I am in 2011 and I still think of the CM from time to time. It just so happened a reader of the site was selling off some VERY cool film point and shoot style cameras and gave me first dibs on any or all of them. He offered to send them ALL to me for a week to review but I knew there was no way I could shoot enough film in one week to review all four of them. Instead I asked if he could send me the CM zoom and if I liked it I would just send him payment for it. So two days later it arrived to my mailbox via USPS Express. WOW, that was fast. I heard great things about the Zoom from a dear friend of mine who owns one and his advice was to “BUY IT!”. Like I needed a push…yea right!

As soon as I opened it and pulled it out of its leather case I knew I would want to keep it. Red leather, a red gordy strap, and a brown Leica brand leather case all included for a GREAT price. He even sent along three rolls of film! I immediately loaded it with some C-41 Kodak BW400 and the camera loaded it up perfectly! All I had to do was open the back, place the roll of film in its place and pull the film across and close the door. The camera started loading it all up and it was ready to go in a matter of seconds.

The CM Zoom has a Leica Elmar Zoom lens Lens, more specifically a Leica Vario-Elmar 35-70mm f/3.5-6.5. It is a slow lens indeed so no fast F1.4 or F2 or F2.5 apertures here but my guess was that this was going to be a gorgeous lens anyway as the Elmar lenses usually are.

To turn on the camera all I had to do was twist the zoom lens out and the camera powered on. I laughed as I did a test snap because the camera focused quicker than my Leica X1, lol.

The viewfinder is TINY though but hey, it is what it is… a Leica point and shoot. The cool thing is that it is a made in Germany Leica and it feels and looks the part. The camera is small, stout, solid and feels great in the hand. In reality , there are plenty of cameras that feel great in the hand but for some reason when I hold a Leica I just feel like I am home. The camera that came before this one, the Miniulx, was smaller and did not look as nice IMO. It was also made in Japan. Not that this is a bad thing, but it seems very un-Leica like. The CM and CM Zoom is a true Leica through and  through.

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There is even an electronic display on the back so you can change flash settings, set the date on or off, exposure compensation and more. It is not on in the photo (sorry about that)

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This is the official Leica CM Leather case which I believe sold for $150 or so. There is also a Gordys Strap attached to the camera :)

Looks wise, the camera is simply gorgeous. It’s fatter than the X1 but almost the same size.

Here is as shot of the X1 next to the CM Zoom for those interested in the size of the CM, both pretty sexy looking I must say…

 

Yea, as usual with most things Leica I fell for it so I think I am buying it for sure. Before posting this review I e-mailed the generous reader who let me try it before buying and told him I will most likely buy it. I really can not afford yet another camera but these do not come around every day with Red leather and case so what the hell, right? You only live once. Besides, I no longer own a film M so for 1/10th the price of a new MP I can still own a beautiful film Leica. It’s nothing like an MP, but it is a fun to use little camera.

The camera is easy to operate and use and I did not need a manual to use it. Loading the film was a breeze and the camera itself is in fantastic condition. What else can I say about this little guy that has not been said over the years?

Since I have been yapping about how great this little guy is how about stating a few of the negs…

NEGATIVE #1 – The lens is SLOW! Yep, it’s an Elmarit. At its widest end of 35mm it is f 3.5. SLOW when you are shooting Leica. This will not be a low light camera unless you don’t mind using the flash (which I have used and it did great). My 1st roll with the little CM was with some Kodak BW400 which is a C-41 print B&W film. No it’s not a Tri-X or Neopan but it’s easy to have processed for quick evaluation :)

NEGATIVE #2 – Max shutter speed is 1/500. I guess this is not really a negative, but just the limitation of the camera. I had some ISO 160 film loaded and even at f/5.6 the LED’s were binking “HI” which meant it would be overexposed if I took the shot due to the shutter speed maxing out at 1/500s. But to be fair, most point and shoot film cameras maxed out at 1/500 so it is what it is :)

NEGATIVE #3 – Distortion/Vignetting/Flaring. I found at the wide end of 35mm the lens distorts a bit. You can see this clearly in the following image when looking at the walls and mirror:

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There is also vignetting when shot at 35mm and wide open at f3.5. I don’t mind it at all though, I like vignetting in my photos from time to time.

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Lens flare anyone?

Other than these few niggles, which are usually expected in a cheaper P&S, I found no issues with the CM Zoom. The Viewfinder is tiny but this is a point & shoot camera, not an MP.

Speed wise, the camera if pretty fast to focus and shoot and seems faster than my X1. Solid construction, beefy feel and cute looks. IQ wise, it seems like the lens is capable of good results but just be aware of the three things above and you will be fine.

I have seen these sell for anywhere between $550 and $800 depending on if it comes with a box, case, manual, etc. If you are looking for a great little stylish film camera that won’t break the bank you have a few options. Cameras like the Nikon 35Ti, the Contax T2, Contax TVS III are also great choices but for some, only a Leica will do. These are not that easy to find but can sometimes be found through Leica dealer Ken Hansen (email: [email protected]) or possibly dealers like Dale Photo may get one in from time to time. The Zoom version seems easier to find than the 40mm version though.

Someone asked me why I would buy one of these when I could buy a Voigtlander Bessa which sells without a lens for about $669. Add a lens and you are well over $1k. The reason I would buy a CM over a bessa is due to NOT having a film P&S in my camera stable. Cameras like the CM can be fun, they are small and quick to operate. Totally different type of camera that I would probably shot with 3-4 X a year. Plus, it’s a Leica and I’m a fan of what  they do and what they stand for. Lastly at 10X less than an MP (without a lens) this little camera is actually a pretty good deal when bought used. These are not meant to be compared to a rangefinder so I didn’t do so. It’s more like an analogue X1 which right there makes it just cool to own. It comes down to price though. At around $500 it was hard to pass up!

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The quick snapshot samples

Here are a few samples from the roll of Kodak C41 BW400, processed and scanned by my local Walgreens drug store (this means crappy low resolution scans). Just basic snapshots as I had nothing going on this past week.

The CM Zoom caught this running dog in mid air!

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Even the built in flash did a pretty decent job here…

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Wide open at 3.5…

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Bokeh at 3.5 looks good to me…also remember these are cheap, low res Walgreens drug store scans.

I now have a roll of Kodak Portra 160 NC in the camera and hope to shoot some cool stuff this weekend with it. I’ll post the results in a future “Friday Film”. Yea, I’m digging the film again!

BTW, if anyone out there has a red or cognac Leica CM (not the Zoom) in the box, in great condition and you want to sell it send me an e-mail HERE. Heck, even a black one if it is mint, in box. Thanks!

For those who asked, here is a  shot with the lens exposed :)

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HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT”S EASY TO HELP OUT!

Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :)

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!

Mar 012011
 

THE WINNERS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN IN THE LEICA M9 CONTEST!

Heidi Klum and Rankin have looked over the top 15 that I e-mailed to them and picked not only the grand prize winner of the M9 but the 2nd place winner of the Leica V-Lux 20. They also picked a third place winner and Seal donated yet another prize for a third place bonus prize!

*1ST PLACE – GRAND PRIZE WINNER*

Brian Wytcherley, Shuangliu, Chengdu China - “Shortage of rural doctors in China’s Yunnan province”

Congrats to Brian for his amazing story portrayed in the two images above. You are the winner of the Leica M9!!

Rankin and Heidi looked over all images and this was the #1 pick.

Here is what Rankin had to say about this set:

“I love the photographer’s ability to capture the sense of loss and the raw emotion that comes with losing someone. It would be impossible to look as this and not be touched by the boy’s feelings of immense grief.”

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*2ND PLACE – RUNNER UP*

Jonathan Cook - “Guy Jones - My Arm Was My Pillow”

Congratulations Jonathan! You are the winner of the Leica V-Lux 2! Thanks to Leica Camera for donating this awesome prize!

Here is what Rankin had to say about this set:

“When I look at this image, I want to know more about the subject. His face and hands are bursting with emotion, and these images could tell a thousand stories”

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*3RD PLACE – BONUS PRIZE!*

Helene Marie Pambrun – “Some scars can’t be hidden”

Congrats to Helene! Heidi liked your image so much that we decided to add a third place bonus prize as a cool surprise. Seal has donated a new Luigi case for a Leica M9. This case comes with strap, and SD card holder. This is a top of the line case for a digital M and even if you do not own an M9 now, save the case for when you do!

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Coming next week – A brand new contest with a pretty high in demand prize donated by ~6.  Thanks to Seal, Heidi, Rankin and PicorTwo.com! I want to personally congratulate all of the 15 finalists as you were all FANTASTIC. The decision on the top two was not an easy one. Anyone could have won this one!

Feb 262011
 

I know, I know…another X1 post! With all of the excitement of the upcoming Fuji X100 I am preparing for the showdown between it and the camera it is taking aim at, the Leica X1.  I have high hopes for the Fuji X100 but as I sit here looking at the samples posted online so far I am not 100% convinced that the file quality will have the same “snap” as that of the X1. I have been shooting the X1 again for the past few days and while it is still painfully slow at times, the IQ just can not be denied. I’ve been taking the little black X1 with me almost everywhere, even though I have not shot anything really worthwhile in the past week. Even so, the snapshots I have taken all have a brilliance and “shine” to them and when viewed at 100% the detail is pretty damn good for the size of this camera. This is all due to the sensor and the way Leica designed the X1 around it.

If Leica can speed up the AF (Auto Focus) to compete with even the slowest of the Micro 4/3 cameras then the X1 will be a force to be reckoned with, even with the X100 hot on it’s heels! How cool would it be if Leica released the new X1 firmware just before the X100 hit the shelves and the AF speed equaled  the X100? Doubtful, but you never can tell. It does seem that if Leica could have improved the AF speed of the X1 they would have done it already so even I am starting to have doubts.

Even with its slow and sluggish AF the lure of the Leica pulls me back in again and again.

Here are some quick snaps I shot today with 100% crops included. Be sure to click on the image for a closer look. One thing they all have in common is the crispness, detail and brilliance that I have not seen in ANY other compact to date. I am not saying other compact/big sensor cameras are no good, just that none have equaled the flat out IQ of the X1. I wonder of the X100 will be able to provide this level of quality out of the camera?

All of the images below include 100% crops embedded in the image.

You must click on the image to see it in larger size for the full 100% crop.

Also, ALL of these were converted from RAW in ACR and everything you see is out of camera in regards to color, etc.

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So the question is this: Can the Fuji X100 beat or equal the file/image quality of the Leica X1? It just might, and if so the Fuji will be a slam dunk winner. If the image quality is not as good as the X1 we all know it will be a faster camera. We will have to ask ourselves if it is better to pay less for a faster, slightly larger camera, or better to have the ultimate IQ, even if it is dog slow. Also, the Fuji is coming in at $800 LESS than the X1 with a built in VF so even if it does not match the Leica IQ it will still be a fantastic camera IMO.

I’ve said it again and again…Leica, IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, get the AF to where it should be with the X1. If you can not, and eventually release an X2 then give it a manual lens with aperture dial, fast AF, and a built in viewfinder.

Personally, I adore the quality of the X1. I adore the body for its style, it’s feel, it’s size and light weight. I think the X1 looks better than the X100 and if the X1 had the speed it could be my only camera if need be. Hopefully I will have an X100 in my hands within 2 weeks as I am buying one blind. If it lives up to the hype I think Fuji will sell LOADS and LOADS of the X100. Hell, I think they will sell loads and loads of them regardless. Classic design, classic feel, Fuji colors, Hybrid VF, F2 lens…so far so good.

I’m starting to get excited for its release….can you feel it?

The black X1 is gorgeous though and it feels SO good when strapped around you with the included Leather strap. It seems to fit flush against my body and I hardly notice it is even there :) I bought my black X1 from Ken Hansen. He has one or two more in stock if anyone is interested. Even with the X100 nearing, If the new X1 firmware comes out and speeds up the AF to a decent level I have a feeling the X1 will start selling out again! It is a Leica after all and for some of us, that red dot is hard to pass by.

More from the X1…just snaps…

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This next one was shot back in 2009 when I first reviewed the X1. It says a lot that here I am in 2011 and I just bought myself the X1 even with all of these new cameras available.

This one was at ISO 1000, f/2.8, handheld inside a church with very low light. Look at the brilliance and look of the image when you click for a larger view. This is the X1 quality that I do not see in other small body cameras.

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HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT”S EASY TO HELP OUT!

Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :)

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!

Feb 242011
 

LOOKS LIKE IT WAS SOLD WITHIN 30 MINUTES! WOW!

BUT THEY NOW HAVE ONE AT $4994! This one must be used or marked. Best to call them at 1-800-956-9132 to ask about it 1st!

Looks like they sold the 2nd one within 5 minutes! WOWZERS!

Was browsing the Leica M body section at Collectible Camera website this morning as I usually check it once a week for anything cool and I noticed that they have a Demo Leica M9 for $6295. The Demo is basically a refurb from Leica and they come with warranty and all. You can see it HERE or call them at 1-800-956-9132! – IT WAS SOLD!

Feb 242011
 

I’m a sucker for apps on the Iphone that turn your cel phone photos into funky, lo-fi classic images. I downloaded them all and while they are usually fun for a while they seem to grow old really quick. Maybe it is due to being a phone app or maybe it is because it’s just a gimmick but there is always something that draws me back in…ahh, such is life for a photo and camera AND software nut!

So here I am in that funky “lo-fi” mood again so I discovered and downloaded some interesting software onto my Imac that turns any photo on your computer into fun, freaky, or beautiful works of art using oddball presets to mimic old film, diana and holga cameras, and all of the coolness that is LO-FI!

In fact, it is called LO-FI and is from a company called “Wingnut”. What is cool is that it is the consumer division of Alien Skin, the makers of Exposure 3 (that I use ALL of the time)  and you can download a free demo trial HERE for Windows or Max OSX. Here is a video that explains the software.

This is a “FUN” piece of software and is actually called an “APP”. $29 gets you a cool and fun interface that looks like the back of a digital camera. All you have to do is drag the image into the LCD screen and  then you can choose your film stock, your “look” and your frame. Very easy. You can also do the random thing by pushing a button and having the app pick a trio of looks for you.

When you find the look you like for a particular photo you can save it or send it to facebook or Flickr with one click. Lo-Fi only works with JPEGs but this is an app that is all about fun and fun it is. Will it last? Well, the fun will probably die down after a couple of days but I will come back to this one again there is no doubt. I’m always finding a photo that could use a little bit of that “Lo-Fi” goodness!

I’ve tried a couple of desktop apps that do the same thing as this one but never wrote about them as I did not really enjoy them all too much. Lo-Fi makes it easy, fun and smooth.

Below are some samples all done using the “random” button in the app! You never know what you will get. This is available for Windows as well as Mac. It is NOT a plug in but a stand alone “app”. If it looks like fun, you can download the FREE demo here. If you end up liking it then be prepared to shell out $29 smackers for it. Not bad for so much fun. :) All samples below were taken today on my new Leica X1 (well, 90% of them..two were from months ago with a different X1, and one is from the NEX-5). Yep, I caved and bought a new X1 this week, this time in black W/Viewfinder from Ken Hansen. Besides, I will need one when I do my “Shootout in Tombstone, AZ” with the X1 and X100! Enjoy!

As always, click any image for a larger, crisper and better view!

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Feb 232011
 

Are you guys ready to see who the winner is in the M9 contest? I know at least 15 of you are ready for the announcement! Ha ha…

ALL 15 of the top entrants are being looked over THIS week by Heidi Klum and Rankin. The winner could come at any time but no later than March 1st, so check back daily to see if I have posted it!

I also wanted to clear something up for those that thought this was a documentary or reportage contest. I though the rules were clear that it was about telling a story..a narrative. I’m still getting e-mails about how some of the finalists appear to be “set-up”. Of course some of them are! They are telling a story! There was no rule stating the story had to be real or any kind of HCB kind of story. I welcomed “set-up” shots and the 15 that you see on the top 15 page are the best of what was submitted. If there were any “real” stories that were submitted that were better than what you see posted they would have been in the top 15. Just wanted to make sure everyone realized that “set-up” photo narratives were allowed.

To see some of the other entries be sure and check out the official contest Flickr stream where those who entered can post their submissions for all to see. Many GREAT photos there so be sure to check it out or even post your entry!

To the top 15…I wish you ALL good luck. Sure, I have my faves but I am not judging this time!

Finally, let us thank Seal once again for donating his personal Leica M9 for this contest. Be sure to check out his official site HERE (tour starts soon!) and also see him on picortwo.com where you can follow his daily activities through his photos. Heidi and Rankin are also on picortwo so you can also follow them!

So…are you guys ready for another contest?

Feb 222011
 

Lately I have been having fun with my posts and reviews by shooting the little fun cameras like the Micro 4/3 bodies, the Sony NEX-5, and little Ricoh GRDIII. All this time I have not been giving my true love in the camera world, Leica, as much attention as I used to. One camera that is in the same category as all of these small body/big sensor bodies is the Leica X1, which I have not shot in quite a while..AND I now have the “itch” to do just that. (my review of the X1 can be seen here)

Problem is, I no longer own an X1 so I can’t but I did spend about three hours last night looking over some X1 photos that I shot during the time when I did own the camera. What I saw with the X1 pictures put those that I shot with the NEX and M4/3 bodies to shame. Really. The X1 is really the KING of these types of cameras, though it has its limitations that we all know about.

The Leica X1 is hands down the winner for overall Image Quality and beauty in a compact camera body. The crispness of the files, the colors, the high ISO performance are all beautiful. Where the X1 falls is in the auto focus department which is VERY slow when compared to todays compact cameras. The X1 is the most expensive of the small body/big sensor cams but if you want a camera that has the beauty, feel, and prestige that IS Leica, along with the best IQ you can get in a compact, the X1 is THE one to get. Keep in mind I am talking about small body/big sensor cameras here. If you want the REAL KING of digital 35mm, and have the cash then you want THIS.

As for the X1, It doesn’t matter that it has a fixed lens, for me at least. Heck, when I shoot the NEX-5 I always use the 16mm prime lens. When I shoot the Olympus E-P2 it seems I always use the Panasonic 20 1.7 or Oly 17. I’m a prime kind of guy so the fact that the X1 has a fixed 24 Elmarit, giving it a classic 35mm equivalent is actually a bonus. I am NOT a fan of zoom lenses. Period. Give me a prime ANY DAY of the week. If I need to zoom, I will use my feet :) Prime lenses are just sharper and give better color and contrast.

Check out this out of camera JPEG from the X1. This was not from RAW but an OOC (out of camera) JPEG! Click on the image to see the real 100% crop and look at the detail the Leica lens pumps out…

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How about a nice full size  out of camera file? Click on the image for the FULL size and check out the X1 detail

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How about HIGH ISO? Even at ISO 3200 the files remain CRISP and detailed.

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ISO 1600 is super crisp if exposed properly…

 

Damn, I’m tempted to sell off a camera or two to buy the X1 again. Really! I do know the AF speed is being improved in the upcoming firmware, but how much improvement there will be, I DO NOT know. The Fuji X100 is coming VERY soon and is poised to take on the Leica X1 by throwing in a viewfinder, faster AF, and also giving us that classic look that most Leica lovers LOVE! I guess I will wait for the X100 before I decide but something tells me it may not beat the X1 in the IQ department. I have yet to really see a small camera that can. This is where the X1 shines. It simply offers the best IQ in a small package that can go anywhere you go. C’mon Leica…let’s get this firmware released. If you can boost the AF speed I think there will be renewed interest in the X1!

The Leica X1 may not have video. It may have a low res LCD. The X1 also is no speed demon in any way. It’s not a sports camera, it’s not an action camera, yet it costs $1995.00.

What I like to call the X1 is a “Life Camera”. The one thing it does extremely well is record your life. Your memories. The images I have captured with the X1 seem to give me more smiles than those captured with the other small compact cameras. Hmmm. Maybe Leica DOES have some sort of magic going on in their factory :)

Here are some random shots from the Leica X1 that I may or may have not posted before. Either way I think they stand above the Micro 4/3 and NEX images I have posted recently. Enjoy! BTW, the Leica X1 is usually in stock at B&H Photo in ALL Black and the classic Grey. Dale Photo also has them in stock HERE. Of course Ken Hansen also has them and he can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]. Looks like Leica shipped out a bunch to their dealers recently!

The Ricoh GXR. Since posting this article a few hours ago I have had a few ask me about the Ricoh GXR that I really enjoyed (and purchased after testing) in comparison to the Leica X1. Well, this is a tough one. The GXR is up there with the best of the small body cameras with big sensors, meaning…it is just as good as the X1 in many ways, better in others but also worse in some ways! It has the same size APS-C sensor as the X1 and for the price of the X1 you can get the GXR body, the 28 f/2.5 module and the 50 f/2.5 module.

The main niggle I have with the GXR is the limited shutter speed in daylight. It maxes out at 1/1000s when you are shooting the lenses wide open. This makes shooting in daylight with shallow DOF problematic. Other than that, I did compare the two cameras HERE. I love them both and explain why in that article.

You know…I have also heard from a couple of sources this past week that Leica also has an ALL NEW camera they have been working on AND supposedly there are some prototypes floating around out there somewhere. I did some digging and rumor sites are claiming it is a full frame – rangefinder-less M9 style camera to be priced well under the M9. No rangefinder, more like an EVIL M. Hmmmm. Could be all BS and hot air but thought it was worth mentioning. You never know!

Enjoy and as always, click on any of the images below for a larger and much better view :)

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UPDATE 2/23/11! I bought a Black X1 for myself…had to sell of some M4/3 gear but could not resist the charm and lure of the X1, plus I was able to get a deal from Ken Hansen. He has 1-2 more in stock if interested. Also bought the OVF for the X1 which is fantastic.

HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT”S EASY TO HELP OUT!

Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :)

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!

Feb 182011
 

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UPDATE: SOLD WITHIN ONE HOUR OF ME POSTING THIS. WOW!

Ok guys and gals…B&H Photo has ONE and ONLY ONE Leica M9 Titanium Special Edition IN STOCK NOW! (SOLD!) CLICK HERE to get it. LOTS of you have been looking for and waiting for this to pop up. Let’s see how long it will last! If only I were rich because this is one body that WILL be worth quite a bit more in the future. Once they are all gone, they are all gone and there are probably a handful that remain… if that! This is a limited edition set that comes with the new 35 Summilux ASPH 1.4 II in Titanium. if you have seen one in person you know that this camera is a thing of pure beauty. Besides, it’s only money, right? Ha ha…

Leica must have shipped them a bunch of stuff today as it looks like they also have stock of BLACK and GREY standard M9′s as well! The black Leica X1 is also showing as IN STOCK as is the 21 Summilux lens.

Feb 172011
 

A mish-mosh of coolness

How cool is this?

Check this out! I recently found out that the little RICOH OVF (Optical View Funder), the GV-2, will work wonderfully on the E-P2 or E-Pl2 with the 14mm lens. The OVF is a 28mm VF so it is a perfect match and looks Sexy as can be! You can buy the little OVF at popflash.com and it runs under $170 so it is not exactly cheap but it is much smaller than the Oly EVF. The build and quality is superb. Amazon also sells it and Amazon ships it. They seem to charge a little more for it though.

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Here is a little press release from a new site by Jorge Torralba

RangeFinderImages.com goes live! I am pleased to announce that RangeFinderImages.com (RFI) has gone live. The original designer and creator of rangefinderforum has taken the concept to the next level by creating one of the most advanced galleries catering to rangefinder photographers. There are a million and one photography forums but there is only one RFI. The photos search capabilities of the site are unmatched by any other except for their sister sites. The many years of interacting with other photographers on the net in forums and galleries has resulted in a custom developed software package to meet the requirements of most enthusiasts out there. Feel free to give them a try and begin sharing your work. Did I mention that it’s 100% free?

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More Fuji X100 tests, but not by me…YET.

photo courtesy of quesabesde.com

Seems to be some testing going on in the Fuji X100 world. I’ve contacted Fuji and they told me I can’t get a hold of one until the final firmware so hopefully in the next 2-3 weeks. Until then, enjoy this little preview (although it is in Spanish).

X100 Preview with Samples!

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THERE IS STILL ONE MORE LEICA M9 SPECIAL EDITION/35 SUMMICRON SET LEFT!

Looks like lensrentals.com still has the M9 special edition set that comes with the chrome 35 Summicron ASPH. Brown Ostrich Leather covering, chrome body, ostrich leather strap, sapphire glass LCD screen and only 500 sets made WORLDWIDE. Gorgeous limited edition set that is actually a deal in the world of Leica special editions. I’d buy it if I had the cash. But I wouldn’t be afraid to use it. If you want it, act fast! The last time I linked to the ones at B&H they sold both within hours! Check out the one left at lensrentals.com HERE.

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Odd but interesting. A Telephoto for your Iphone?


Seems like photojojo has created a telephoto lens for your Iphone. Hmmm, seeems to me it would be hard to keep your phone in your pocket. I can see it now…”Is that an Iphone tele lens in your pocket or are you just happy to see me”? Check it out here!

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The Leica X1 Firmware…where is it?

One of the site sponsors, Dale Photo has a shiny new Black X1 in stock but where is the new firmware Leica promised us months ago? I was told 1st quarter of 2011 so I expect it anytime in the next 2-3 weeks. Leica is always so slow with the updates but let’s hope they did improve the AF like they said they did. From what I have heard, it will be much faster. I am guessing they are doing this to answer to the newer cameras like the Fuji X100. That is one cool thing about Leica. They only release new models every 3-3 1/2 years for their major cameras. I do not expect an X2 until late 2012. Same goes for an M10. I am excited to see what the new firmware update will bring.

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MORE CONTESTS AND GREAT PRIZES?

Was having a chat the other day with ~6, who kindly donated his M9 for the GREAT LEICA M9 CONTEST (winner announced March 1st 2011) and it appears we will be having more contests with some VERY cool prizes. Maybe not as cool as a signed M9 but I am talking some GREAT prizes. We are still talking about things so when I find out more I will announce it. We may have one starting right after the M9 winner is announced! Stay tuned!

Also, if you “like” my new facebook page for this website you are automatically entered to win one prize every month! Starting March 1st I will pick one facebook “fan” at random to win a small photo prize! The winner selection will be totally random and all you have to do is LIKE THIS PAGE to enter. You will be entered for every monthly give-away which will take place on the 1st of each month!

Be sure and LIKE the page by clicking here, then clicking LIKE if you want to enter :)

Feb 142011
 

NOTE: This is not a review of the two lenses but instead a “just for fun” article about one day shooting with them both. The reviews will come in the next week or two. All photos here have been processed with Alien Skin Exposure 3 using a custom preset, which means the color/yellow cast, the sharpness, and the imperfections were all ADDED to the photos. THIS IS NOT a review! As always, click on any image for a larger and better version. Enjoy!

Wow! What a week last week! The Leica M9 contest really kept me busy so a couple of the photo/review projects I had planned for last week have been pushed to this week. That’s OK though, I will be working on all of the new stuff this week. Today I wanted to write a fun article because it seems like I have not done this in quite a while, so I wanted to write a little bit about HAVING FUN with photography.

It seems that these days so many people take their photography hobby seriously. That is good as it helps us to focus and become better at it. The only problem is that sometimes we can get to caught up with the gear, the tech specs, wether or not our camera has a crisp LCD or performs well at ISO 6400 and up. I have come to learn that even if I am shooting a camera like the incredible Nikon D3s I really do not use anything higher than ISO 5000 anyway! I searched through 30,000 of my photos to see what ISO I shot at and 98% of them were ISO 200 or lower. This tells me I really do not need a high ISO camera. I’d rather have a fast lens :)

I was out this weekend at the Renaissance Festival in Phoenix AZ for fun, food, drink and what else? Photography!

Olympus E-P2 and Panasonic 14mm 2.5 lens – Alien Skin Exposure 3 – Custom Settings

I brought along some cash, a Leica M9 and 90 Summarit lens, an Olympus E-P2 with Panasonic 14 2.5 lens and also the SLR Magic Toy lens (though that one never came out of the bag). It was a warm and sunny 81 degrees and the sun was a bit harsh. I knew I would probably have some issues with blown highlights but hey, it was all in fun anyway. I wanted to see the shots I would get with both cameras and lenses. BTW, Ken Hansen, my good friend and superb Leica dealer sent me the 90 Summarit to try out as he noticed I never reviewed it!

I also processed all of the images here using Alien Skin Exposure and a custom made preset. I was in a vintage kind of mood last night when looking over the photos. In case you missed it above…  this is not a review of these lenses! Those will come at a later date. Sometimes I feel it’s nice just to write about the “fun” in photography and not stress about detail, sharpness, contrast or perfection. Besides, it’s Valentines Day and I have a date in a few hours so I am in a fun kind of mood. LOL.

The Leica M9 and 90 Summarit – Alien Skin Exposure 3

As I walked the festival and shelled out $10 here, $10 there, and ate a frozen Banana I tried to spot opportunities for photos but for some reason, it seemed a bit dull this year. I had the M9 and 90 slung around my body to the left, and the E-P2 and 14 slung around to the right. After four hours of walking I can easily say the E-P2 was the lightest load to carry but again, the M9 is just made for this kind of photography. I only shoot with a 90mm for about 3% of my shots total. IN other words, I rarely use that focal length on an M camera but when I do I am always happy with the results.

My 1st impressions with the little Leica 90 Summarit lens was very positive. It really doesn’t give up much to the older and more classic 90 Elmarit in the image quality department and it is also a faster lens with a maximum f/2.5 aperture (this equals even more creamy bokeh). I only shot around 20 frames with this combo and all were spot on focused and I had ZERO complaints! The lens is built nice and just so happens to be Leicas most affordable 90mm lens.

Leica M9 and 90 Summarit at f/2.5 – Wide open! Added the vintage treatment, scratches and all with Alien Skin Exposure 3.

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Olympus E-P2 and 14mm – No complaints and a very fun combo to shoot with. This gives you a 28 2.5 equivalent for your M4/3 camera.

Just two hours after we arrived my cash was dwindling. Just to get in was $22 for each person, then the food, the snacks and the occasional “Dad, can I have $10″  but it was fun to just relax, hang out with those you love, and witness all of the cool costumes and shops. I admit though, I did miss having a 35 or 50mm equivalent lens on the M9 as I am just so not used to shooting with a 90! The little E-P2 with the Olympus viewfinder did great. if anyone owns the E-P2, E-PL1 or E-PL2 I HIGHLY recommend the EVF as it’s still the best on the market in the EVF dept. (IMO).

The next THREE images were all shot with the Olympus E-P2 and 14mm

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I remember that while I walked around I wast thinking that I wasn’t getting many good shots. It seemed like it was  going  to be one of those days but I didn’t even care! I was  there to have fun and that is exactly what I did. I think that when you lift the stress of trying to get out there and find shots to take they seem to start  to find YOU. Funny how that works huh?

The next three shots were all taken with the M9 and 90 Summarit wide open at 2.5. It’s easy to isolate your subject with the 90 :)

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So which camera/lens combo did I enjoy the most? BOTH! I loved the Olympus combo for its light weight, small size and sleek styling. One guy asked me if the Olympus was an old camera and I always think that is pretty cool. The E-P2 is a classic in the design department and I hope Olympus keeps up with the same design in the rumored “Pro” E-P3. It IS the best looking Micro 4/3 camera, PERIOD!

The M9..what else can I say that hasn’t been said? It is simply the ULTIMATE digital camera. If you have the cash then get one! You only live once but it really is not for everyone. It is the ultimate documentary machine and has the ability to capture feelings, emotion and do it with finesse and style like no other camera I have used. Then again, maybe it is just MY attitude when I use it. It always inspires :)

I easily recommend the M9, E-P2 and both the Leica 90 Summarit and Panasonic 14mm 2.5 lens. These days, it is hard for a camera company to make a bad camera or lens it seems but having a 28mm 2.5 lens for your Micro 4/3 for under $400 is fantastic! (at the time of this writing the 14mm is $373 at B&H Photo). The Leica 90 Summarit is the least expensive 90mm you can get for your M9 if you want Leica made glass. It holds up the Leica tradition as does ALL of the Summarit lenses.

You can buy the 14mm lens at B&H here and Ken Hansen has stock of the 90 Summarit at the best price going. He may also have one of those Limited Edition M9 sets in stock as well (The $12,950 chrome/brown ostrich ones with the 35 Summicron). You can e-mail Ken HERE.

Hope you have enjoyed my “just for fun: article today…kind of nice after last weeks over the top excitement! Happy valentines day to all!

Just a few more shots from the day :)

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I NEED YOUR HELP! YOU CAN HELP SUPPORT THIS SITE TO KEEP IT GOING AND GROWING!

Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :)

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!

Feb 112011
 

VOTING IS CLOSED!

The last three finalists are Helene Marie Pambrun, Jonathan Cook, and Jacques L. Gudé! Congrats!

Ok guys, here it is. So far I have revealed 12 of the 15 finalists in the Leica M9 give away contest.

To make it even more fun, exciting and suspenseful  I decided to put up 10 more of my favorite selections here for YOU to vote on. Starting now you can vote for your ONE favorite. On Monday Feb 14th at 9am Phoenix, AZ time I will stop the poll and the top 3 vote getters will go in to the finals with the 12 already selected. THEN, those 15 will go to Heidi Klum and Rankin for a final vote for the winner and 2nd place winner.

This contest has been intense, fun, exciting and suspenseful. As with ANY photo contest there will be those of you who disagree with my choices but hey, all of these are worthy of the top spot IMO. So great job to all! I did my best to choose the 15 that spoke to me and told a clear story but it is hard when you have 50-60 great entries to go through. Believe me!

Ok, no more blabbing…the time has come! On to the final step. The 10 below, to me, are equally as good as the ones in the top 12 already so your help is greatly appreciated! Review them and vote in the poll at the bottom of the page.

As for the poll, it will only count ONE vote per person, per IP address. The poll uses IP address as well as other methods to avoid cheating. Sure you can keep voting, but only one will count. Again…There is no way someone can sit there and click away all day as the vote will only register once so make sure you vote for your top pick, only one vote counts!

Good luck to all 10 but only THREE will make the cut! The official top 15 page is HERE!

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CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO VIEW THEM IN MUCH BETTER QUALITY!

#1 – Jonathan Cook – “Guy Jones - My Arm Was My Pillow”

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#2 – Juha Saransalmi – “Finding the power of music”

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#3 – Matthew Miller - “Operation Mend”

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#4 – Eric Poe Miller - “Gaby Reaching for the Finish Line”

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#5 – Stefan Viehbacher – “The Journey Of A Goose”

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#6 – Steven Caddy – “Too Early For Goodbye”

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#7 – Aaron Hardin - “First Snow Penance”

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#8 – Dan Moruzan – “Pig & Pork”

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#9 – Helene Marie Pambrun – “Some scars can’t be hidden”

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#10 – Jacques L. Gudé – “Dreaming”

Feb 072011
 

LOOKS LIKE B&H SOLD OUT IN ONE DAY but if you still want one LENRENTALS.COM has ONE left in stock NOW! CLICK HERE TO SEE IT. – Well, lensrentals.com sold out within minutes!

Only 50 were made and once they are gone, they are gone. B&H Photo just listed as IN STOCK the Special Edition Leica M9 set (NOW SOLD OUT but LENSRENTALS.COM HAS ONE LEFT – UPDATE #2 ! Sold out too!) that is finished in SILVER CHROME (Not Steel Grey) and wrapped in brown ostrich leather. It comes packed with a chrome 35 Summicron lens and it also has the upgraded Sapphire glass. This set also comes with a nice leather strap and again, only 50 were produced. If you break down the price…A new M9 is $7,000, a new 35 Summicron is $3000 and the Saphhire glass option on the M8′s were over $1000 if I remember correctly. That is $11,000 right there. Add to this the matching leather strap, the fact that this is the only M9 you can get in chrome AND that only 50 were made and this is actually not too ridiculously overpriced. Basically you are paying an extra $2000 for the ostrich leather, chrome finish, strap and to be one of the 50 to own this set. I’ve been seeing these sell at various dealers and B&H probably only has one or two so if you have been itching for one, now is the time. Check it out HERE.

PS – Some of you may know that this was actually the M9 Neiman Marcus edition that probably didn’t sell very well when it was $17,000+! And yes, IT DOES COME WITH the 35 Summicron ASPH in chrome, some of you questioned this but it does indeed come with the lens. Again, B&H sold out but lenrentals has one left!

Feb 072011
 

UPDATE – ALL 15 Finalists have been posted! Congratulations to all! The winners will be announced on March 1st 2011!

Ok, as promised I am starting to post three finalists every night for the rest of the week. By Friday all top 15 will be posted on this page. Before I post the 1st three let me state that these are not in any order. I really had a hard time choosing for this contest but the 15 I did choose were ALL fantastic in my opinion. All of them told a story, and any of them could win the grand prize :) When I chose the top 15 I was not out there looking for image quality or even someone with amazing photo skills. I was looking for TWO photos that when put together told me the story that the photographer was trying to tell me. There were a few in the top 15 that had it all..superb photography skills and the story. For this contest it was more about the vision that the photographer had for his/her story.

With so many amazing entries I was having a hard time narrowing it down so I asked for help. Ashwin Rao, who contributes to this site on a regular basis, looked over my top 35 and chose his favorite 15. I then took his favorites and compared them with my favorites and then narrowed it down to the final 15 that will compete for one of two top prizes! The Leica M9 donated and signed by Seal along with my 50 Summitar is the grand prize, but let’s not forget there is also the brand new Leica V-Lux 2 that was donated by Leica Camera for the runner up! Also picortwo.com also had a huge hand in this so be sure to follow photographers there such as Seal and Heidi.

When all 15 have been posted the official judges, Heidi Klum and Rankin will be looking over  this page and picking the final winners. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Even to those who entered and did not make the top 15 YOU ARE ALL WINNERS! Why? Because this contest motivated you and got you out there to shoot. Your brain started working and your creativity was elevated. This contest had over 1300 entries and all of you did a great job. I am a humble guy but I have to admit, this contest ROCKED! I can not wait to see who will win the cameras as I am sincerely excited for all of you who made it.

One more thing before I start presenting the finalists. The decisions made here are final and as with every contest I have held or participated in,not everyone will agree with MY choices. BUT, I have gone over each and every one of these submissions to make sure I did not miss anything. I did this three times and every time I came back to the 15 that you will see on this page. These submissions are the creme of the crop and all of them completed the objective which was to create a photo narrative with TWO photos..basically, to tell a story. Yea, it was tough to do with only two shots but these finalists all did it! So please, no rude comments, none of the “my entry was better” comments and no bitterness! Besides, we may be planning a few more contests to keep everyone motivated and full of passion!

Without any further hesitation I bring you the first entries that will be part of the final 15.

PLEASE! Click on the images to view the larger version! They are MUCH better this way!

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Andy Allaway, Crystal Lake, IL USA - “Accomplishment”

Chalid Mawardi Nasution, Indonesia - “Octopus Hunter”

António Miranda, Portugal- “Just living.”

Bram Platel, Eindhoven –  The Netherlands - “Free as a bird in my own world”

Ann-Marie Hensley, Brentwood TN – “Dachshund Through the Snow”

Brian Wytcherley, Shuangliu, Chengdu China - “Shortage of rural doctors in China’s Yunnan province”

Daniele Zedda, Ciampino (RM), Italy – “Faith in Yourself”

Dan Hartwright, West Sussex, United Kingdom - “My first camera tastes funny!”

Amy Medina, Holbrook, NY“Saying Goodbye”

Sasa Gagic, Bosnia and Herzegovina EUROPE - “Everyday is a new struggle”

Megan Baker, Brooklyn NY - “A Solitary Game”

Dan Skjæveland, Rogaland, Norway - “Our Future Hope”

Helene Marie Pambrun - “Some scars can’t be hidden”

Jonathan Cook - “Guy Jones - My Arm Was My Pillow”

Jacques L. Gudé - “Dreaming”


The remaining three finalists will be added to this page on Monday Feb 14th. Tomorrow a new post will be put up with 10 finalists and YOU will be able to vote for your favorites. The three with the most votes by Monday morning at 9am Phoenix, AZ USA time will make it here to this page. Good luck to all and congrats to those who made it so far!

Feb 062011
 

WOW! Over 1300 entries came in for the M9 contest. Over 2600 photos!! When this contest started I thought there would be 300-400 entries max but you guys surprised me with your enthusiasm, creativity, and overall excitement for this contest! As the entries came in I separated them into one of three folders. Basically one folder for the submissions that were good, one for the submissions that were better and finally one folder with the submissions that, in my opinion, told a great story. The best of the best all had something to say and the entrants came from all over the world. Some were dark, some were humorous and some were erotic. Overall, every single entry was looked at carefully and I will be posting my top 15 anytime between now and Feb 15th. I want to go over each and every entry one more time to be sure but this is not going to be easy, not at all!

Also, when the top 15 is announced and posted I hope we can all remain civil and respect the decision made. This contest was all about storytelling, using two images to form a narrative. About 95% of you did this and did it well, so that makes my job even harder! No matter who makes it to the top 15 I congratulate all who entered just for getting out there and giving it a shot! I am thrilled that this sparked passion in everyone who participated and I know if I had to come up with two images that told a story it would drive me crazy trying to figure out what to shoot.

So once again, thanks to all who entered. Thanks to Seal for his generosity and overall “coolness” and thanks to the Judges, Heidi Klum and Rankin who will be picking the TOP two winners. Don’t forget to follow one of them over at picortwo.com! Keep an eye peeled every day as the top 15 can be announced at any time, just no later than Feb 15th!

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