May 192011

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

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

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

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

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

As always, thanks for visiting the site!


May 192011

USER REPORT: The Leica X1 Dynamic Range by George Sutton

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

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

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



May 152011

Finally, I Added My Portfolio Pages!

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


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

May 132011

Re-Visiting the Leica 50 Summitar lens on the M9

By Steve Huff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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



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

and one I shot about 6 months ago…


Looking for the swirl! Can you see it?


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


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

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

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

As always, click images for larger versions!





May 102011

The Forums Are Going To Get A Major Improvement SOON!

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

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

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


My Crystal Ball

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

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

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


The Olympus XZ-1 arrives…

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


Using the “Dramatic Tone” filter…


and my old fave, the Grainy B&W Filter


More from the Fuji X100

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

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



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

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

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

May 102011

Different Lights, Different Lens

By Hao Hen Chen

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

The Photographs – different lights and different lens

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

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

Above: Blue Mosque from Ground Up

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

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

Above: Donkeys at Santorini

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

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

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

Above: Ali Ahmet Celebi Cami from the Galata Bridge


Above: Boy Climbing from the Roof of a Church


Above: Blue Mosque from the Tram Station


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

Above: Bus Terminal at Galata Bridge


ABove: Galata Bridge and Yeni Cami


Above: Yeni Cami at Dusk


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

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

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


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

Above: Elderly Lady Walking Past the Blue Mosque


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

Above: Beggar at Yeni Cami


Above: Man at Yeni Cami


Above: Pigeons at Yeni Cami


Above: Boys Kicking Tin Can


Above: Man and Anchor (stopover at Dubai)


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

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

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

For more photographs, please visit our website at

May 092011

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

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

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



Saturday July 23rd

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

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

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

-       9:15-10:30: Group Introductions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, July 24th

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

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

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

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

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

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

-       3-5 pm: PM stroll at Discovery Park

o   Beautiful nature site worth spending some time at

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

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

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


Possible Photo Strolls

-       Downtown stroll (Pikes Place, Pioneer Square)

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

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

-       Kerry Park (early AM or sunset)

-       Graffiti wall and urban walk

-       Alki Beach

-       Seattle Public Library stroll

-       Sculpture Garden and waterfront

-       Out of Seattle, into nature

-       Golden Gardens at Sunset (beach, mountain views)

-       Ferry trip to Bainbridge island

-       The Piers where the Ferries take off



May 082011


Leica will host experiential workshops in 16 North American cities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boston, MA - August 12, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience


Calgary, AB, Canada - July 16, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience with Todd Korol


Chicago, IL - August 6, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience


Santa Barbara, CA - July 9, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience


Santa Barbara, CA - July 10, 2011

Leica Compact Camera Photography


Los Angeles, CA - October 14-16, 2011

Leica Weekend : Featuring Craig Semetko


Miami, FL - December 9-11, 2011

Leica Weekend


Minneapolis, MN - August 20, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience


New York, NY - September 22, 2011

Leica Street Photography


New York NY - October 26, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience


New York, NY - September 16-18, 2011

Leica Weekend


Portland, OR - August 17, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience


Salt Lake City, UT - October 5, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience


Salt Lake City, UT - October 6, 2011

Leica Digital B&W Photography


San Francisco, CA - July 28, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience


San Francisco, CA - July 29, 2011

Leica Compact Camera Photography


San Francisco, CA - September 16-18, 2011

Leica Weekend


Seattle, WA - August 20, 2011

Leica Street Photography


Toronto, ON, Canada - July 22, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience


Toronto, ON, Canada - July 23, 2011

Leica Digital Black and White Photography


Vancouver, BC, Canada - September 9, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience


Vancouver, BC, Canada - September 10, 2011

Leica Compact Camera Photography


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

Leica Weekend : Featuring Quinton Gordon


Washington, DC - November 4, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience


Washington, DC - November 5, 2011

Leica Street Photography

May 062011

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

May 052011

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


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


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


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


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


Retro! A Leica Digilux 1 for $195!

May 032011

The British Royal Wedding with a Leica X1, M9 and Noctilux 0.95

By Edmond Terakopian

It’s not everyday that there’s a Royal Wedding and the last time there was this much excitement was when Price Charles married Lady Diana; actually, I think there may have been even more excitement this time round as Prince William is much loved and the nation seems to have taken to Kate Middleton rather well!

What all this meant was that pictures from the event would be sought after and the pressure was on. It soon became apparent that it was going to be a logistical nightmare; accreditation, the cost of some of the spots, geographical distance between locations and the hundreds of thousands of spectators meant that it would be impossible for one photographer to cover everything. The prime locations would be the domain of the papers and agencies.

I needed something different; I was shooting for Polaris Images and my pictures were headed more for the magazine market. I needed to find a way of telling the story. My decision was to photograph the reaction of the people and the atmosphere. I started my story with memorabilia, went on to the super dedicated fans who camped out nights before and then onto a good old fashioned British street party; all about atmosphere.

I was caught off-guard though! I had put aside an evening as i was invited to the World Photography Awards, followed by the exhibition, drinks and networking gathering. Halfway through the awards ceremony I saw an email from Polaris letting me know that campers had shown up at the Westminster Abbey and they needed material. I make it absolute policy to always have a camera with me no matter what. However, I was a bit worried if I could shoot a feature assignment properly on a pocket camera. Well, I must say that the Leica X1 rose to the challenge beautifully and I shot the entire set of night camping pictures on it. At 800 and 1600ASA it performed beautifully and I managed to get a few good shots.

I went back to the camp during the following day. This time I was properly kitted out. In my little Fogg b-laika shoulder bag I had my Leica M9, 21mm Elmarit, 35mm Summicron ASPH, 50mm f0.95 Noctilux ASPH and 90mm f2.5 Summarit. On my shoulder I also had a Canon 5D MkII with a 135mm f2L lens for the more distant and tight shots. Having worked the scene for around an hour or so I decided to leave and go to Buckingham Palace to see what was happening there.

Whilst at the Palace I shot a set of rehearsal type shots with the guards and also found more fans camping. It was wonderful; I had found fans from Zimbabwe, San Fransisco, Sweden, Australia to name just a few places. I made more pictures here and then shot off home to edit and file my pictures to Polaris.



For the day of the wedding, after several weeks research, I had found what I hoped would be the perfect street party and it turned out to be so. This lovely small road had been shut with a pub at one end and a row of tables filling the street to the other end. Taking pictures inside the pub whilst people watched the TV screens to the party outside gave me a nice range of atmospheric imagery. After around five hours I was done and I went back home to edit and send.


What surprised me about this assignment was just how much of it I shot on the 50mm Noctilux; I’d shot around 75% of the entire project on the Nocti. When I looked through my work, I realised that I could have shot the entire thing with just the M9 and the 50mm Noctilux!

On a technical note, I did all my editing, captioning and image processing on Apple’s Aperture 3. For the black and white images you see here, I also used Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2.

To see more of these pictures, please visit:

and for colour:


I also have a short blog post at:

My website is at:


Lastly, you can follow me on Twitter – @terakopian

Apr 282011

M in the Mountains – A Beginner’s Experience

By Darell Miller

**All photos were shot with a vintage 1961 50 Summilux

I come alive in the mountains. The sense of silent power, crystal clear air, and hushed awe lifts all my senses. On a clear day the sky is a deep delirious blue that that you can almost drink in and just looking at it refreshes exhausted legs after a 2km thigh burning black diamond ski trail. Exhilarated and relaxed at the same time, I am in my element.

I have always longed to be able to capture some of that mountain magic I feel in my photographs but when using digital compacts had not really done anything more than point and shoot and failed. Things started to change last year when through an email conversation with Steve I took my first steps to serious considered photography I bought an Olympus EP2. Six months later after having used some M series lenses on the EP2 I signed up for Steve’s meetup in NYC and managed to pickup a secondhand M8 through the Leica Forum. Now I really stared to learn about the elements that produce an image and actually have control over it. My photos from NY weren’t fantastic but I was learning and loving the process. Now if i could just combine this with my great love of the mountains and skiing that would be great!


Sun, Snow & Wind


The problem was that I normally go skiing with my teenage son who isn’t all that tolerant of my taking photos at the best of times, I slow everything up apparently, and not at all when there’s skiing to be done. This combined with all the kit I have to carry in my backpack for the two of us when we are skiing meant that the best I could hope for was some quickly snatched shots on my EP2, which wasn’t my aim. I was chatting about the problem with my friend Luke, a Canon user and a far better photographer than me, when he came up with a fantastic solution “How about a boy’s skiing and photography weekend in Cervinia, Italy?” Well that didn’t take much thinking about I can tell you! Once we had both obtained the vital green light from our wives it was full steam ahead.

Now came the vexed question of kit. Lenses were easy, my 28mm Voigtlander and my vintage 50mm Summilux were the obvious choices, but a Billingham Hadley Pro is hardly the ideal bag for skiing with. A backpack is more practical but makes it difficult to get at your camera quickly. Here Luke came up trumps again as he uses the Lowe Pro Slingshot as a light weight quick access bag for his Canon and a lens. This is a single strap backpack but with aside strap which holds the bag more firmly in place which can be unclipped from the sling in front of you. This means the whole bag can be swiveled around your body and opened up from the side entry zip with no chance of your camera falling out, even on a ski lift! If you are into active sports and want to take your M this is definitely a bag to consider. With an M8 and two lenses it still has room for a spare sweater in the main compartment, vital when the temperature gets down to -27 degrees Centigrade.

So one Friday evening in we found ourselves touching down in Turin in the north of Italy. For those who haven’t been there Turin is one of the major industrial cities in Italy, the home to Fiat cars, and is located in a bowl literally surrounded by mountains. For a skier it would be heaven to work here as your are no more than an hour and half drive from some serious ski resorts. Oh and if you want to know what it looks like then just watch the original 1960’s Italian Job movie as the whole robbery sequence is set in Turin, don’t get me started on Mini Coopers.

Early Saturday morning we are up and ready to drive form our hotel to the slopes, and I mean early, the Moon hadn’t even set yet and the Sun was barely peeking over the top of the surrounding mountains.

Early start for the slopes


Cervinia itself is right up on the Swiss/Italian border where you can ski down into the Swiss town of Zermatt and both resorts play host to one of the most iconic mountains in Europe, the Matterhorn. This really is mountain straight form your childhood imagination, especially when seen from the Swiss side. A perfect pyramid of rock, snow, and ice towering over everything else, it punctures the sky like an exclamation mark. Needless to say there were many attempts made to capture its extraordinary beauty and I hope I have done it some justice here and in the first photograph.


Majestic Matterhorn


Complementing the Matterhorn is the seemingly endless Aosta valley. A sinuous, winding corridor of snow clad peaks reaching down from the border with many wonderful ski resorts along its sides.


What followed was two and a half days of bitingly blue skies (it really did get down to -27 at one point!), fantastic skiing, great food and wine (well we were in Italy) and lots of photography. Here are a few more of my favourite shots from this amazing weekend.


Matterhorn Towering over Cervinia


Last of the day’s Sun


Luke and his Canon


Luke carving a turn in front of the Matterhorn



I thought I’d finish in the style of Steve’s & Seal’s M9 contest with two images that for me define why I love the mountains.  Thanks for reading.


Heaven is a place on Earth


Apr 262011

So last night I start getting e-mails flooding my inbox about this Leica i9 concept camera that has been posted online by Black Design Associates. I took a look and it appears there has been quite a bit of thought put into this thing! The i9 would combine your Iphone 4 with a fixed Leica lens rangefinder system.

Just sliding the phone in to the back of this camera body would activate it and you would be ready to rock with dedicated aperture dials, a light meter, and a flash. The camera back opens like a film door and is interchangeable, so when a new Iphone is released, a new back would be as well. Interesting idea with a target price of $1200, but again, this is all fantasy and concept. Fun to see someone putting some work into this though. Besides, this could be the future of cameras! Who would buy one of these if it were available? I have to admit, it looks gorgeous!

Be sure to read all about it HERE.

Apr 222011

Some cool used Leica deals!

Was browsing the used section at B&H Photo this morning and noticed quite a few “new” used Leica items…so tempted to pick up that Zeiss Sonnar myself! B&H is closed for the holiday but are accepting orders that will ship when they re-open on Wednesday. I’m guessing the Zeiss lenses will go quickly, so if you are itching for one of them, act quick. I’ve seen these go fast and the Sonnar has been a tough one to find lately.


GET IT QUICK! Used Zeiss 50 Sonnar 1.5 for your Leica M, under a grand! This is one of my fave 50′s ever – SO classic!!!

Used Leica M6 Mania – Here, Here, Here and HERE! – There is also a black classic in the classifieds here on this site for $1200!

Another great Zeiss ZM – The 35 F/2 Biogon, great deal!

LEICA 90 ELMARIT 2.8, Used Deal!

Used – LEICA M7 TTL, .85, Black 8+

A used Leica M8 with Handgrip, black – $2449


Dale Photo has a few cool used items as well…

Leica 90 Macro f/4 – GREAT little lens guys! $2000

Leica 50 1.5 Summarit – Old school chrome! – $700

Used M8 with a black dot!


BTW, the classifieds on the site here are rocking with some great gear…check it all out if you are looking for some great deals!

Apr 202011


Is the Sony NEX-5 the poor mans Leica M9?

Testing the Noctilux on both!

Many of you have been asking me for a quick test like this, and since I have a Leica M9, Noctilux and Sony NEX-5 on hand I decided to snap a few shots in my backyard to see just how much difference there is between the two cameras, when using the same 50mm Leica lens. I spent yesterday and this morning grabbing some quick shots with the Leica Noctilux ASPH f/0.95 lens on both the M9, and the NEX-5 with Adapter. The big question…Can the NEX-5 give results equal to or even close to the M9 when using the same lens? Many think that yes, it can. Some feel that the NEX can do better and others will say NO WAY, not possible! Others will say “WHO CARES!”.  I would like to personally believe that the M9 would wipe the floor with the NEX-5 using the same glass because let’s face it, those of us with a Leica M9 have paid dearly for it and for some $600 camera to come along to match it would be kind of upsetting to some. Honestly though, It wouldn’t be to me as I love the whole RF shooting experience and the NEX doesn’t even come close to that experience when shooting with it. STILL! I have written quite a bit on the NEX-5 as it has been quite the popular little gizmo due  to the fact that you can use almost any lens on it, when using the correct adapter.

I have seen some lovely shots with the NEX with Canon glass, Leica glass, Zeiss glass, etc. But still, when I look at these shots they all have the Sony NEX “look”. I do not mean this in a bad way, just that the NEX-5 has a certain feel to the images it puts out. The color, and overall smoothness of the file always tells me what was shot with the NEX-5. When I shoot the M9 and nail focus, the files still make my jaw drop to this day. Gorgeous.

So what I wanted to do was take some random test/snapshots with each camera using the $10,495 Leica Noctilux lens. The Sony has a 1.5 crop factor so the 50 will become more like a 75mm. That means that these images will not be exactly the same in regards to the focal length appearance, but hopefully you can get an idea. I have to say that when going over the images I was surprised how well the NEX-5 did, but at the end of the day, the M9 pulled ahead and it is mainly due to the color signature, the lack of an AA filter and the fact that it is using a full frame sensor.

This also made me wonder if there is anyone out there who bought an NEX-5 and a lens like the Noctilux to use with it. IMO, it would be a waste as the NEX sensor can not take full advantage of this masterpiece lens. My money would be on something like a Zeiss 50 Sonnar or 50 Planar if I wanted to shoot M glass on the NEX-5.

Ok, onto the test snaps…


The first test snapshot – Just an image of a door handle. Actually, the NEX-5 did great here. It took me approx 3X longer to manually focus the NEX accurately than the M9 but it wasn’t so bad. Just takes some getting used to.


and now the M9 image. See how it looks a bit more dreamy and with what appears to be more shallow Depth of Field? This is the full frame sensor at work and we see some vignetting of the lens as well. Shot wide open as was the Sony shot above.

What I see in the two shots above is the NEX-5 shot is very sharp and looks like a crop sensor image to me. The M9 image is showing me the classic 50mm focal length and has the Nocti signature where the NEX really didn’t have it. BUT, the $600 camera did quite well I think! Some will probably even prefer the NEX-5 shot here with the more clean rendering. Hmmmm.


Here I had my friend Mike do a quick pose so I could shoot both cameras. First the NEX-5, pretty much straight out of the camera, converted from RAW…


and now with the M9. In this set, I much prefer the look of the M9, Just has that Nocti look and glow IMO. Again, straight out of camera RAW conversion.


NEX-5, shot at f1.4. Testing for color and DOF…CLICK IMAGES FOR LARGER


and now with the M9. Both are very good…which do you prefer the look of, or do you even see a difference?


More DOF – The NEX-5…


and the M9 – both shots were at 0.95


Here is an F2 snap and this one seems neck and neck. If you click the images you will see a larger version with a 100% crop. The NEX-5 seemed to equal the M9 here for detail…

The NEX-5


and now the M9


one more..NEX-5



So even with these silly test snaps from my yard we can see that the NEX-5 does fairly well when shot in good light against the M9. Still, for me at least, the M9 holds the edge with its full frame sensor and color signature and most of all, the shooting experience. When shooting the Noctilux on the NEX-5 it was sort of a pain due to me having t o magnify the screen, dial in exact focus, then un-magnify the screen so I can compose and then finally take the shot. It’s a lengthy process where you can forget about ANY sort of action shot when shooting like this. Even the M9 is slow when compared to the AF monster DSLR’s BUT I CAN get some action shots with the M and Nocti.

Also, the RAW files seem much more hardy from the M9 meaning I can push them farther before they turn in to a digital mess. The NEX files seem to break apart pretty quickly when pushed to the extremes. With test shots such as these some will say the $600 NEX-5 does just as well as the $7000 M, but in real world shooting I found the M9 to be much better for me and my style of shooting. But with that said, you can’t really argue about the results that the little Sony NEX can pump out. It’s more capable than I previously thought though it is cumbersome  to use with manual lenses. Then again, it all depends on what you are shooting and your personal style. If this little NEX had a full frame sensor I think the results would be pretty damn similar to the M9. So imagine…a pro level NEX with a FF sensor and no AA filter coming in at $1199. Now that would be SWEET.

One more, out of camera JPEG. ISO 1600, B&W.




In the shots above, both were shot as in camera JPEG, ISO 1600, B&W mode. To my eyes they look pretty similar except for the fact that the M9 is using ALL of the lens. if  you crop the M9 shot, the results would be similar to the NEX-5! Interesting!

Check back in the next day or two as I will be reviewing the Sony 18-200 Lens on the NEX-5. Think I will take a stroll to the Phoenix Zoo today and give the lens a workout. If any of you missed my NEX-5 review, you can take a look at that here. As always, thanks for stopping by!



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