Apr 242014
 

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The Leica T (Type 701) Unibody Digital Camera Review

If Apple made a digital camera, this would be it!

by Steve Huff

The Leica T Video Overview 

The Leica T Becomes A Reality

Note: This review was done using a pre-production camera with firmware that is not yet final!

Thursday April 24th 2014, 6 AM: A few weeks back I published a story about a rumored Leica camera that I thought for sure was a fake camera photoshop job.  You can see the post here but I was not so nice with my words about the rumored camera as the images, which I thought were faked. It looked so much like a Sony NEX copy that I though Leica would never release such a thing. But as it appears, those images were indeed real and let me just state right now..IMAGES CAN BE DECEIVING and were in the case of the new Leica T.

The Leica T is now a reality and yes, I have had the pleasure to shoot with one for the past 8 or 9 days and I will go on record to state that this is in no way like a Sony NEX, no way like a Fuji X and no way like a Micro 4/3 Olympus or Panasonic. It is indeed a REAL Leica digital, inside and out but a NEW Leica experience. So yes my friends, those images you saw were the real deal but until you really see what the new T is all about, AND hold one AND shoot with one, you will have no idea how super cool and fantastic it really is. No, it is not an M or anything like an M but it is something unique all in itself. Of course the Leica haters will never agree or get it or understand it, but that is OK as there are cameras made today for everyone’s tastes. If you have interest in this all new Leica system then read on my friends as I am about to tell you in 11,000 words and one 32 minute video more than you may want to know about the new T ;) 

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Steve, do you want to try out the new Leica T?

When Leica contacted me and asked if I would like to be one of the very few to use and review the new Leica T camera system before the official launch I said “YES YES YES”! Besides, I was intrigued by the new T, mainly because I wanted to see what the real story was..the real deal if  you will.

If they were going to show me a $3500 plastic camera that was a bad copy of a NEX-7 I was going to tell them that they were SCREWED. In fact, if they were going to show me a run of the mill all metal $3500 camera I was more than ready to say “Leica, you are screwed”! So I wanted to see what it was all about to clear the air.

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Before sending me the camera for review Leica invited me to New York City to preview it for an hour or so and to explain exactly what it was and why it was. I can say that what I saw/held and fired off shots with really surprised me as in build, in feel, in operation, fun factor and quality it was superb. It was indeed a Leica through and through. Though this time Leica has gone in a different direction than they normally do..a move to the future and a move to be different from the competition. Not only different from their previous cameras but different from what any other camera company has been doing. Not a huge departure from a typical APS-C mirrorless but enough of a difference to make it interesting.

Finally… Leica decided to deliver a German-made HIGH QUALITY interchangeable lens body camera that is a bit different and more unique from anything else out there with a very high level of “pride of ownership”. The Leica T is created from a solid block of Aluminum..a “Unibody” … much like the sweet Apple designs (macbook pro) that are currently on the market. But not only is the build and design up there with the best (if not the best) of APS-C cameras, the Leica T has a few tricks up its sleeve that will set it apart from other APS-C cameras out there today. There was a surprise that the rumor sites were not allowed to leak early on and it all had to do with the BACK of the camera (which ended up leaking 24 hours before launch anyway)

Oh, for those wondering..this is NOT an M mount camera but it CAN mount and use M mount lenses (with the new Leica M adapter that is an optional accessory) and it works very well in this way. More on this later.

My 1st Look at the T in NYC

Each and every T is made from a block JUST like the one you see below. Pretty cool.

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I eventually flew to NYC for less than 20 hours just to take a quick sneak peek at the new T and as soon as I sat down in the meeting room Stefan Daniel from Leica handed me a solid brick of Aluminum and said “This is our new camera”. I chuckled..ha ha ha.. He said “No, THIS IS our new camera”! He then cued up a video showing how this camera body is made from a solid chunk of aluminum and just how labor intensive it is to make each and every T body. In fact, one of the video clips they cued up on the big screen was 45 minutes in length showing the hand polishing process that is painstakingly done by one gloved hand man for each and every T body made. It was actually 45 minutes of a close up of two hands and a T body being painstakingly polished. The exact way each and every body is polished, which tells me that these cameras are not a mass-produced piece of plastic..far from it.

Each T body is made with great care and attention to detail and each body takes a long time to create and assemble from the block chopping for each camera body to the polishing to the electronics to the assembly, inspection and testing. They just do not make them like this anywhere else.

Oh boy, this may be expensive” I said to myself.

FYI: The Leica T is a 16.5MP CMOS APS-C sensor camera using the same exact sensor as the Leica X-Vario (which is an amazingly good sensor for IQ though not the greatest for super high ISO) with an all new processor.

The new touchscreen system is an absolute JOY to use. Simple, smooth, fast and very intuitive. I have not seen anything like it in ANY other camera. This is a forward move for Leica, and IMO, a good one for this camera. The surprise is that there are NO buttons or dials on the back. It is 100% touch for the settings and menu. BTW, this is nothing like those Samsung Android cameras…

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After an hour or so of asking questions, shooting with it and checking out the new M adapter made specifically for the T (with electronics to tell the T what lens is attached) I was intrigued. The new touch screen on the back takes up the ENTIRE back of the camera. It is a super clean design. No buttons, no mess. All touch screen and I can say that it works beautifully. Smooth, silky and everything takes one touch to change. It was much faster using this intuitive touchscreen than any button based menu system I have used. Impressive. For playback just swipe up anytime and your images pop up on the screen. Swipe to scroll through them, pinch to expand, etc. Very “iPad” like. (example of this is in my video at the top of this article)

Leica asked me if I would like to do a full review of the T before launch so I could have a review ready for launch day. I of course told them that I would be thrilled to review it and give it a full real world workout and then post my initial review on launch day.  It is an honor to be one of the review blogs to be able to do this, especially when the product is something exciting, something fresh, and something capable of very high IQ with the Leica look and feel. While I expected to dislike this little guy, once again I was wrong in my initial impressions.

While not perfect and not a “Dream Leica”  (would need an integrated EVF for this), I like this T system much better than the X-Vario for many reasons, one of them being that it will accept Leica M lenses, and it will perform exceptionally well with them. In fact, as already mentioned, Leica has even designed an all new ($395) adapter with electronics to take advantage of this feature.

Being an interchangeable lens camera, the T will have all new lenses made for it which most of them will be made in Japan (though they will NOT be made by Panasonic..this was confirmed with Stefan Daniel himself while I was in NYC). The two launch lenses look and feel fantastic though not up to the build of the legendary M lenses (to be fair though, they are much less expensive than the M lenses and are not M lenses as they have AF)  and the performance appeared to be stunning from what I saw from them in NYC on the LCD. While the lenses do not come cheap, they are true Leica lenses through and through, only made in Japan to save YOU on the purchase price. Full Auto Focus of course while keeping the design and lenses SMALL, which is something that Sony has a hard time doing for some reason.

The 18-56 Zoom is as sharp as can be. This was taken in HARSH mid day 98 degree sun. These two guys were betting on horses… and losing. Still they were enjoying themselves and chatting away.

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The Leica T is an all NEW system camera

The Leica T will start shipping at the end of May 2014 and there will NOT be a kit lens option, it will be sold as a body only. The camera will ship alongside two launch lenses, a very nice almost perfect 18-56 f/3.5-f/5.6 zoom (giving a 28-85 equivalent) and a 23mm f/2 (35 summicron f/2 equivalent). Both lenses coming in at just under $1700 and $1900 respectively, which yes, is on the pricey side, especially for the zoom. But when I told them I thought the zoom was priced too high (and people will complain) Leica was quick to tell me that the performance of both of these new lenses is what makes them so special.

I was told they are indeed REAL Leica lenses and in optical quality they are up there with the best of them. The zoom is incredibly sharp from corner to corner with no distortion or issues that I could find (besides the slow aperture speed). This lens is similar to the one built-in to the Leica X-Vario which is an IQ monster but because it had a bad launch and is lacking in some areas (like no interchangeable lenses) it was not the hottest seller in the Leica lineup.

With the T, Leica is hoping to change this.

The Leica T with the 18-56 zoom – RICH colors seem to be a specialty of the T (click image for better version) – This zoom lens is sharp from corner to corner and SMALL as well as very well made. I think it is overpriced by a bit but Leica tells me the glass and performance is 100% Leica, and it is..still..the aperture range is slow for this kind of cash. Zoom fans will be hard pressed to find a better zoom lens for a mirror less system in this range when it comes to performance (corner sharpness, color, contrast, etc)

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Why Leica designed the Leica T System, and how they will compete.

Leica users are a very unique breed. Some buy Leica for the red dot but not me. As a Leica M user I am one who use their cameras not for the name, but for the craftmaship, the quality, the simple operation, the pride of owning a real hand-made and solid camera as well as the results. I am very passionate about my cameras and the act of recording memories, slices of life. I have always enjoyed using Leica cameras to do just that.

The image quality is always fantastic but the lenses and user experience is usually high off the charts. I am talking about REAL Leica cameras NOT the rebadged Panasonic models. The M system has been a dream of many photographers for years and years and usually those who dive in and go all in with an M system usually love it to death, and miss it dearly when it is gone.

The only problem with the M system is the very high COST of acquiring a full set up with just 2-3 lenses.

Leica is a small company and they make small batches of amazingly well made cameras and lenses but in no way do they push nearly as much product out of those factory doors as a Nikon, Canon or even Sony and Olympus. The reason is because the market is quite a bit smaller for Leica due to the cost involved in acquiring a full-fledged system (meaning, not as many people buy Leica as Canon/Nikon/Sony). Let’s face it, spending $10k for an M with one lens is NOT something that many of us would take lightly, no matter how good it is.

For many years now Leica users and wannabe Leica users have been asking for a more affordable alternative to the M, one with the ability to use those delicious M lenses. The T answers this. Users also want new more affordable lenses. The T answers this as well. Previously Leica has tried to fill this gap with the X cameras but they always fell a but short as they could NOT take M lenses or any lens besides the built-in lens that came with the camera!

The T with the legendary 50 Summicron at f/2 using the Leica M adapter

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In 2014 Leica now has a new much larger and more efficient factory and with the new capabilities in manufacturing they have decided to produce the new more affordable German-made Leica T system and go forward with the Leica philosophy without losing sight of what that is.

The fact is that the Leica T is now the “affordable” Leica system that will give you the “NEW” Leica experience while keeping many of the charms and features intact that we all love about Leica. Mainly, SIMPLICITY, QUALITY and FUN FACTOR. 

The Zoom lens really is fantastic. 

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Those words above are very important for me when I choose and use a camera. It has to be simple. It has to have superb quality. It has to be fun and inspiring to use. For me, the Leica X-Vario failed in a couple of these areas and the X2 also came up a bit short while being crippled by the fixed lens, and I said so in my review of that camera. So will the new T be able to win me over? That is the question I wanted the answer to, and thankfully, I was about to find out.

After I was shown the new Leica T camera in NYC I was asked “How much do you think this will cost, body only”..my answer was “$3499″.

I thought for sure it would range in between $3000 and $3500 as this is LEICA we are talking about and Leica is NEVER cheap or affordable AND this guy is made from a solid brick of Aluminum and hand polished. After showing me the insanely labor intensive process for making just one single T body, I figured it could have been even more than $3500! But after my guess of $3499, I was told the answer of how much a T will set you back.

**$1850**

Yes, the Leica T will sell for $1850, body only. You choose what launch lens you want and buy it separately. The Zoom or the Summicron or even maybe (depending on the thickness of your wallet) an M Lens or two using the new adapter. I have NOT tested the new Summicron, only the zoom and a 21 Super Elmar M lens along with a 50 Summicron M lens. Both did AMAZINGLY well but I preferred the Zoom to the 21 Super Elmar. 

Again, using the M adapter with the 50 Summicron at f/2  - Get the true Leica look using M lenses.RICH IQ and color/depth from the sensor. Beautiful. Click image for larger view!

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Now before anyone gets in an uproar for me calling this the “affordable” Leica keep in mind that this is a REAL Leica, made in Germany and that adds value no matter what your thoughts on Leica are.

For a real made in Germany Leica, $1900 is very reasonable when going by the history over the past 10-15 years. Look at the cost of an M7 or MP or M-E or M240. Even the X2 is $2000. The D-Lux and C models are made by Panasonic, not Leica and this is why they are more affordable.

As for the new T, it has an amazing build, heft and feel. The build surpasses just about any other APS-C mirrorless camera I have used. When I say this I am referring to the feel of the dials, the solidness of the body, the smooth sound of the shutter and the little details like the battery system that is just like a mini Leica S battery system. It has a pop up flash that is as smooth as butter and the main thing is that it is incredibly simple to use, even without reading a word of the manual.  It’s all in the details my friends. If you want quality, it is right here. No muss, no fuss.

The Leica T, from a build and construction standpoint is amazing. A real Leica that will last many years. When you add to that the new touchscreen navigation (no buttons on the back at all) that works amazingly well and smooth, the fact that the IQ is equal to and can even surpass the cumbersome X-Vario and the fact that you can use Leica M lenses or the new Line of lenses then you have a home run for Leica fans and for those who were never able to get into a Leica M due to financial reasons.

Will this give you the IQ or feel of an M? Not really, though it can get very close when using M lenses. With the new system lenses you will get X-Vario IQ and beyond because now you will not be stuck with one slow zoom, it will only be one of your options ;) Yes! You now have OPTIONS, which is GOOD.

The T is a serious IQ machine. With the 50 cron. 

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The IQ is technically the best I have seen from any APS-C format sensor camera BUT more enjoyable to use than the X-Vario (IMO) and other APS-C cameras (for me). The speed of the AF is the best I have seen from a Leica and while not blinding and blazingly fast it is actually pretty snappy and quick when using the zoom (though it can hunt a little in low light with said zoom lens). The new lenses announced are just as sharp and beautiful in IQ as the M lenses with a bit lower quality construction to save you money.

$1900 for the body is a steal of a deal, especially for M shooters wanting a backup. But beware! The T system CAN and DOES get expensive when you start to add-on the accessories like the Visoflex EVF, the Adapter, and the two new lenses. In fact, a fully pimped out T system will set you back close to $7k with EVF, both Leica lenses, Adpapter for the M lenses and the slick leather camera case and cool leather bag. Yep, around $7 grand for the whole kit and caboodle, which is the cost of one M body by itself without a lens (which will not give you that much more in the IQ department, but it is an M).

Bu of course one does not need to buy it all, that $7k estimate is if you wanted EVERYTHING with the new T to start off.

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This T is a mini-fied M type futuristic body with a grip, takes lenses, has a dedicated M mount adapter so the M lenses can communicate with the camera and a unique swivel external all new EVF (Visoflex) with built-in GPS. The touch screen (which does NOT swivel) is a move forward for Leica and I would not doubt that this new touchscreen navigation and control system, if successful and liked, will make its way to the next M camera in a couple of years…my crystal ball says 2016. Leica is moving ahead to the future and while almost any camera today can give you superb results, a camera is so much more than IQ and results. Everything with the T oozes quality, even the way the strap system works.

I have said a million times that a camera MUST inspire and MUST do everything else right to be able to bond with it, and when you bond with a camera it is then that you can LEARN and GROW. Joy of use goes a long way today and many cameras fall short of this. So how does the new Leica T do in this area?

I will give you a hint: I LOVED using it and the more I used it the more I wanted to use it, even if it was without a built in EVF. Strange.

Easter Eggs – The 50 Summicron wide open at f/2

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OK, let’s get this Leica party started..

The Leica T arrives to my house

After I arrived back home from previewing the Leica T in NYC it was only a matter of 3-4 days before a pre-production model was delivered by Fed Ex to my house. I was told by Leica that I had it for 7 days (they previously told me two days, which would have been almost impossible).  I was a bit worried that I would not be able to do a full and complete review in only 7 days (usually takes me 2 weeks) but I knew if I worked my ass off I could, and with a new Leica in hand of course I was ready to do just that. Besides, I do not consider this stuff work at all as I love it of course! How lucky am I? (very)

Inside the shipping box was the silver camera body, the 18-56 f/3.5-f/5.6 zoom lens, a battery charger and Leica M adapter. No manual, no specs, no instructions, no info..nada. I was hoping for a box but nope, just bare bones. In a way this was a good thing because it gave me a chance to see just how simple this camera is to use. With two control dials, a shutter and movie button, there was not much to figure out besides the new touchscreen navigation/menu/setting system.

After 2 minutes I had the touch menu down and was easily changing settings, setting up profiles and all was good in the world. Even using the M adapter and some M lenses proved to be effortless. Everything was simple and logical. No confusion. No special settings. No oddball menu configuration needed to set up the adapter. It just worked.

The Leica T houses the same sensor as the X-Vario, which is a good thing and a bad thing. For one, the sensor does have a very nice quality to it as you can see in my X-Vario Review HERE. Great color, sharpness, and that Leica IQ bite to the images. The one weak spot with this sensor is that it is not quite up to the levels of the newest cameras for high ISO. ISO 3200 is about as high as I would use even though I did go up to 6400 for one of the shots in this review (which you can see below)

ISO 6400 in a dark mining tunnel. In reality we could see nothing but the man in the back. Using the slow zoom the camera chose ISO 6400 in Auto Mode and the view in the EVF was grainy, so I assumed the image was going to be awful. But what I saw on my screen surprised me. ISO 6400 shot in the dark was actually usable with good color.

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BELOW: ISO 1250, converted to B&W using Alien Skin. Notice how detail is kept and the grain does not look offensive in the slightest? Yep, just how I like it. I can not stand it when a camera adds smearing NR to the files. 

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Speed Demon?

(Speed, handling and response)

The Leica T is NOT a speed demon if you compare it to something like an Olympus E-M1… as you may expect. Then again, no camera I have used matches the E-M1 for speed and response besides the E-M10! Not even the Canon 6D or Fuji X-T1 beat the E-M1 for me in speed. So comparing the T to the E-M1 showed me that the T is slower than the E-M1 in AF speed, but in reality it is not that far off! Of course..I knew that before I tested. I can tell you that the T just about matches other mirrorless cameras for AF speed and beats the older Fuji’s by a mile (all before X100s and X-T1). This is a good accomplishment coming from Leica, the king of the manual focus lenses. AF speed is good, no question.

The fact is, Leica has never been about making cameras for sports or fast action shooting. Nope, Leica, for me at least, has always been about shooting LIFE. Always have been, and I think always will be. With Leica you can strap the camera up, take it out to the streets or anywhere you go and you can capture life as it happens. This is how I have always used my Leica cameras as they somehow inspire me to go out there and capture things that I do not normally capture as well with other cameras. It is a strange thing and could be mental but if it is  mental then I am happy that there is a camera that does this for me ;)

As for the build, feel and presentation, it is superb. As I said earlier, do not let the images of the body fool you. The camera is actually gorgeous in design and build. It is as solid as it can possibly be with a nice feel if not a teeny bit on the small side. If you have larger hands you may want to add a case for extra grip. But yes, this camera is small, but it is VERY sexy in the flesh. When you hold it you will realize right then and there that this is indeed a REAL Leica and not one of those Panasonic re-badged cameras.

The battery of the Leica T works like it does on the megabuck S system camera.

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The battery is pretty cool as well and works just like it does with the S System. It clicks in and out and the battery cover is attached to the battery. It keeps the camera sleek. With minimal dials and buttons the camera looks a tad futuristic. Funny coming from a company who has always clung to their classic history and design. For example, the Leica X2 looks like a teeny M in design. The X-Vario also looks like an M in design. The T is going off in an all new area for Leica and while it may appear to look like a Sony NEX, it is quite a bit different but cut from the same cloth as a few other mirror less designs. The difference is apparent though when shooting with and actually using the T as the whole user experience is all Leica.

As for getting back to the speed, the T is more responsive and faster to auto focus than the Leica X1, X2 and X-Vario. It is the fastest German-made Leica to date, and for me it is about the equivalent of Sony NEX or E-M5, a bit faster than the Sony A7. So while not up there with an E-M1 it is very close to everything else when using the 18-56 Zoom (the only native lens I had to try).

For the type of shooting I enjoy it is fantastic because one thing that has never failed me with the T is Auto Focus accuracy! It always nails it and there is nothing that frustrates me more than a camera that can lock in and fire but misses the focus. So focus accuracy seemed great during my use with the camera and zoom. No complaints.

No problem catching this racing horse with the T and the 18-56 zoom. Click for larger!

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As always, Debby is ready with a smile to help me along in my reviews! Once again, the kit zoom. EXIF is embedded.

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Think of the Leica T as a souped up X-Vario with interchangeable lenses in an easier to hold form factor with a bigger “cool” factor and more fun to use.

From the strap system that is much like what you see on a few fancy limited edition Leicas (which is proprietary) to the battery (which is also proprietary) to the oddball shaped external EVF (which is a Leica made EVF this time from what I can tell), the Leica T is a very cool camera system that surprised me by just how well made and unique that it is in its design and usability. It is something “special” that we do not get from other cameras in this category and you know this when you use it and especially after spending some quality time with it.

With the zoom lens the camera has a biting sharpness and great micro contrast that makes images POP with color and depth. This is a direct from RAW file, just resized.

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My time shooting with the T

When the T arrived I immediately charged the battery and attached it over my body for the next 7 days. I took it with me when I left the house or went anywhere. I took it to Turf Paradise, the horse track in Phoenix. I brought it with me in the 98 degree sun when I drove four hours to visit Oatman, AZ to see the burrows that roam the town freely. I had it with me around town and around the house. In use it always was 100% solid and never gave me one issue. I did not miss shots from any oddball problem and it never froze up, never mis focused and never ran out of battery.

I was expecting issues as this was not a production camera or final firmware but the T kept on trucking and gave me no issues. I shot some video just to test it and while this is no pro video shooting machine, the footage looked nice enough.

Using M lenses was a joy for me, very easy to shoot and focus.

The cool thing about the T is the fact that it is very fun to use due to the massive touchscreen LCD on the back. It all makes sense and you will not need any manual with this when you crack it open and power it on. It is all right there. You can customize the camera menu with your favorite settings just by dragging an icon to the camera graphic. You can delete a photo by dragging it to the trash. Change ISO with the thumb dial up top or a touch box on the back.

Auto ISO is a breeze as you can set up your max ISO and min shutter speed. Everything you need to be able to take fantastic photos is there and nothing more. As I said, the key thing about a real Leica cameras is SIMPLICITY. The T is SIMPLE to use.

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The $1700 18-56 Zoom Lens

When Leica sent me the T for review they did not include the ONE LENS I wanted to really shoot with, the new 23 mm f/2 Summicron (which gives us a 35mm equivalent). Instead they sent me the slow ass zoom which reminds me very much of the zoom on the X-Vario. It’s sharp, it’s crisp, it has amazing color rendering, corner to corner sharpness even wide open..sounds perfect right? Well, NO it is not perfect because it is damn slow in the aperture dept! With an aperture of f/3.5 to f/5.6 it is yet another slow zoom lens from Leica. But with that said, if you do not need the speed then this lens is the best little zoom I have shot with. It offers a 28-85 equivalent in a very small and well made package. This zoom is smaller than Fujis 18-55 zoom and smaller than the Sony Zooms and performs better. It is a nice size and part of that reason is because it is a slower aperture zoom. For daylight and mid-light use, this zoom rocks. It does indeed come with a lens hood, which I never did end up using at all and I had no issues with flare.

Here is the Leica 18-56 Zoom next to the 50 Summicron f/2. The cron is a SMALL lens so you can see that the zoom is not much larger. 

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With the IQ so good coming from this lens it is up to you to decide if you want it. I dismissed it at first but the more I shot with it the more I realized just how versatile it is. Then after shooting with it more and more I realize that if I bought the T I would eventually want this lens! Wow, that is odd for me a I usually hate zooms (especially slow aperture zooms) but this one has something about the way it renders the images that I really enjoy. That Leica crispness and color is just there in every shot.

It does not do well in low light though (due to the slow aperture) but if you had the zoom and the 23 f/2 Summicron you would be set. I think Leica did not make the lens an f/2.8 zoom because they wanted to keep the size small and not look ridiculous on the camera. An f/2.8 version would be quite a bit larger while keeping the same quality.

The 18-56 zoomed out to 56mm – click for larger and better version to see the perfection in this lens It is quite special. Leica knows glass.

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The cost of the zoom lens is also very expensive at $1700. I feel (or wish) it should be around $999-$1200 but then again, that would not be very Leica like would it? IN MY OPINION, after using everything out there it 100% offers superb performance that beats the Fuji, Sony, Oly lenses in this range when shooting in daylight but suffers in low light due to the slow aperture, and some of those other zooms are faster at f/2.8. This Leica zoom has the same X-Vario weakness, aperture speed. The cool thing is that this time we can take this lens off when the lights get dim and put a faster lens on unlike the X-Vario experience. Very cool and a huge plus for the new T.

The Visoflex Electronic Viewfinder

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The new external EVF from Leica is quite unique. It looks like one of those submarine periscopes when mounted on the camera. It is an oddball design but I like it, which some of you may not. But I always like oddball things.

Here is the kicker..as I write this review the camera or anything associated with it has NOT been announced yet. It will when this review goes live on April 24th at 6AM (and by the time you are reading it you will know all about this camera and accessories as Leica will have spilled the official beans on it). But right now, for me, I have no idea on the specs of the EVF!  All I know is that it has GPS built into it and will sell for $600 or so. I do not know the resolution or specs, when I do (which will be the same time you do) I will update this section. (2.3 million dots)

In use it is a joy to use and while I would MUCH rather have it built-in to the camera (When will you get this one right Leica?) the new Visoflex offered a nice experience. It is sharp enough to manually focus M glass without using magnification, at least for me. You can choose 3X or 6X magnification when manually focusing an M lens though.

In low light the EVF gets a little muddy like mostly all other EVF’s on the market but still works great and is easy to frame with. It is not as huge as the new EVF in the Fuji X-T1 or Olympus E-M1 but it is not small either. I’d say it is maybe the 3rd or 4th best EVF I have shot with ;) For $600 I was hoping it would be up there with the best in size but it is not. Still, this is Leica and it is a bit better than the last EVF offering that was an Olympus EVF-2 in disguise (or so it seems).

BTW, this EVF is IMPOSSIBLE to ever be used on the M 240 as it will l NOT fit. Impossible. So the rumors saying that this was a new EVF that could also be used on the M 240, that is wrong and false 100%. I tried it, does not fit, at all. Not possible. Besides, if Leica releases a new EVF for the M 240 I expect it would be better than this one. Then again, I imagine the next M will have a built in hybrid style EVF/RF.

Using a Leica M 21 and 50mm with the T

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Just look how bad ass the T looks above with the 50 Summicron and EVF attached! Remember that the body as you see it in NO WAY feels cheap. It is SOLID and you can feel it when you hold it. You feel METAL. Polished metal. The Unibody design is a treat for the eyes and the hands. As for using M lenses on the T..

THIS is where I found the T to be pretty special. With the new fancy and expensive $395 adapter from Leica I was able to mount M lenses to the camera and use them without any issues. The adapter will read the 6-bit code from the lens and communicate this information with the camera. This way, the T will know what lens is on the mount, which is very cool.

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On hand I had a Leica 21 Super Elmar and a 50 Summicron and both performed flawlessly without any issues whatsoever. The 21 performed great without any colored edges or softness or issues. Yes, this is an APS-C sensor so it is not as demanding as full frame but many of you will remember that even on Sony NEX APS-C cameras there are issues with many wide angle Leica lenses. On the Leica T the 21 did great and the 50 gave me results that looked just like I would expect with the full 50 Summicron character shining through. Crisp, bright, 3 Dimensional, sharp and with superb color or B&W conversion. Take a look at the images below for some quick samples. The 1st image is with the 21 wide open and the following two were with the 50 wide open. Click them for larger!

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Things that could have been better with the T?

Many will say “Why didn’t they make the T with an M mount! This would have been a TRUE Mini M”! Well, yes it would have but then we would have been stuck with only VERY expensive lenses and no new more affordable versatile zooms and primes. Leica wanted to create a body that was under $2000 with a new mount for which they could provide a new line of lenses for. AUTO FOCUS lenses that are made in Japan but using Leica glass and design. Again, the lenses are not made by Panasonic (according to Stefan Daniel) and are supposedly true Leica lenses but made for the new T mount in a more affordable manner. This way many more can get into a Leica system and later on they can add M lenses if they desire. But still, an M mount T would have been cool for many of us who own a ton of Leica glass.

So do I wish this T was an M mount? Nope. Due to the fact that it has a new mount it opens up possibilities, like the new Zoom for example. Auto Focus, etc. Besides, M lenses can be easily added via an adapter and the adapter seems to be a perfect match for the camera and M glass, so in a way, for the cost of the adapter you get a T mount and M mount camera. Leica made the right choice which means we get more choice.

Which leads me to the M adapter.  It is $395 and does have electronics that will read the 6-bit code of the M lens (provided it is 6-bit coded) and tell the T which lens is attached. Is this for corrections? Maybe, Leica did not say but the two M lenses I shot on the T worked fantastic.

High ISO. This could have been better on the T because at 3200 and 6400 we do get some grit and noise but it is not much worse than current cameras and slightly bests my E-M1 so for me not a huge deal as I have had zero limitations shooting an E-M1 in any light. Up to ISO 3200 is good but I’d stay up to ISO 1600 to be safe if you are allergic to noise. The good thing about Leica is that they do not apply that nasty noise reduction like most cameras so the results stay sharp with noise. Just how I prefer it.

Weather Sealing? They could have added some weather sealing for peace of mind. The T is not sealed but a Leica at $1900..I would not expect it to be sealed. Remember, this is Leica.

EVF Visoflex cost. This could have been a couple hundred less. As it is it is 1/3 the cost of the camera body itself. It does have a built in GPS but for $600 I would expect the worlds best EVF experience, and this is around the 3rd or 4th best. For Leica to make this a true drool worthy camera they should have put in a built-in EVF. How many times does this need to be said?

Slight lag after taking a photo in single shot mode. When you shoot a frame the LCD displays the image which seems to make the camera lag for a brief moment. If you want to shoot one shot after another, choose continuous mode because in single shot mode you will have a very brief moment between shots due to the display pulling up the image. This could also be a quirk of the pre-production model and not so final firmware. Nothing major and did not affect me shooting but just wanted to mention it. Also, C mode worked great when shooting at the horse track. I was surprised at how speedy a Leica could be ;)

More lenses at launch. As it is we have TWO lenses at launch (more to come). The 18-56 f/3.5-f/5.6 for $1700 and the 23 f/2 Summicron at nearly $2000. So we have the slow zoom, which suffers from the X Vario syndrome (need good light for good results) and we have the 35 Summicron equivalent, which is good but where is the 50 f1.4 equiv or even a 50 Summicron equiv? I asked about future lenses and they said there were more coming but I have no idea of when. Lenses make a system, so it is a good thing that we can adapt the M lenses to the T and Leica knows this. One cool thing is that many old vintage lenses can also be adapted and they can be found cheap in some cases.

Other than that the T is a pretty polished and solid product. If it had a built-in EVF it would have taken a superb camera and made it even better, almost perfect for a Leica IC camera. As it is, I still enjoy it and the EVF experience as it is, well, it is very nice and is all we get.

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Accessories for the T

The T will be shipping with some accessories that will be available at launch (or should be). Below is a quick list of the ones I have seen in person:

  • A system camera bag. Leather and even fits an iPad mini. I saw this in NYC and really liked it. Would fit a T, two lenses, a charger and an iPad mini.
  • The M Adapter. Electronic contacts to recognize what M lens is attached to the T. A premium adapter that works well. A must for M users.
  • The Visoflex Electronic Viewfinder. Has built-in GPS and looks like a periscope and at $600 it is not cheap.
  • Leather half case. I saw this as well. It is grey and fit the camera very well.
  • Various rubber and colored straps
  • Colored camera “shells” to protect the body while looking cool in colors such as orange, yellow, etc.

So the accessories above are the ones I know of and I think they should all be available when the camera ships at the end of May 2014.

The T in NYC with the leather half case, 35 Lux and the EVF

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Miscellaneous things about the T

The T is a unique camera. With the build, the feel, the unique experience of the touch screen and the “apple like” design and cool factor the T is a very nice camera.

The Leica T App to connect via WiFi is now available at the App store

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  • BUILT IN 16GB MEMORY – Other things about the T include the fact that it has 16 GB of built-in memory. If you forget or run out of SD card space no worries, just use the built-in memory. 16GB is quite a bit and this was cool of Leica to add this. All camera should have this feature!
  • Built in WIFI – Leica has an app that you can use to control the camera with the WiFi feature. I have not tested this yet but will soon!
  • HD video – The T has 720 or 1080P video. While not the best camera for shooting video it is the best video on a Leica to date.
  • It comes with a real plug-in charger not just a USB cable.
  • It comes with a very different kind of strap. It is made of rubber. It grips your shoulder. It attaches in a unique way. ;)
  • No AA filter so this is one reason why the images are so crisp.
  • As I said earlier..if Apple made a digital camera, this would be it.

This little burro was standing away from all of the others just baking in the sun. 18-56 Zoom. Click for larger to see the sharpness and color.

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Leica Promo Video for the T

Leica has produced some interesting promo videos for the T which you can view below.

ISO CROPS

Below is a simple test shot with ISO crops at 100, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400 and 12,800. What is nice about the T is that Leica does not add detail busting noise reduction, so while you see some noise at 3200 and up it is not offensive and your images retain detail. What you see below are direct OOC JPEG crops.

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PROS and CONS of the Leica T

PROS

  • Beautiful Design
  • Beautiful Build, best of the mirror less APS-C lot
  • Made in the new Leica factory in Germany by Leica!
  • New line of lenses with AF, more to come
  • Superb Leica IQ – sharpness, detail micro contrast and color
  • Can shoot M lenses with the new Leica adapter!
  • No AA filter!
  • Left thumb dial is easily configurable by touch
  • EVF has GPS inside and is a good EVF for Leica
  • WiFi inside for use with new Leica App
  • New touchscreen interface is super slick and works EXTREMELY WELL
  • LCD is large and gorgeous
  • Best HD movie of any Leica to date
  • Best AF speed of any German made Leica to date.
  • Good JPEG quality out of camera
  • Files have the Leica look in color and look/feel (follows the X IQ tradition)
  • Never had an AF miss, always locked on even if it had to hunt for a bit to do so
  • $1900 for the body is a good price for what you are getting..a REAL Leica
  • 16 GB of built in memory in case you forget or lose your SD card!
  • Cost is high but value and pride of ownership is high
  • Cool pop up flash activated by the power dial
  • Clever accessories to make this a true “system” camera

CONS

  • Wish it had a built-in EVF!!
  • Fastest shutter speed is 1/4000th not 1/8000th
  • ISO 3200 and up could be a little better
  • No real image stabilization
  • Camera is not a fast action shooter!
  • Very Slight lag in single shot mode between shots, could be firmware/pre-prod camera issue
  • AF with Zoom can hunt a little in low light!
  • Zoom lens is a bit overpriced IMO but DOES perform incredibly well
  • Some may not like proprietary strap and battery
  • Cost of EVF is $600 and smaller than competing EVF’s from Fuji/Olympus
  • Slower (around one second) startup, LCD does not tilt (but EVF does)

18-56 Zoom!

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Full Size files from RAW

Below are three full size 16MP files from RAW. To download them RIGHT click on them and open in a new tab or window. All three were shot with the 18-53 Zoom, and EXIF is embedded. You can see just how share this lens is, in fact, it does not even know what the word “soft” means ;)

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Leica T Q&A

Just a few questions and answers for those who are curious. If you have any questions about the T, email me HERE and ask. If I know the answer, I will add it to this section.

 

Q: Is the Leica T only available in Silver?

A: Leica will release it in black later on, could be a while (I now hear July). BUT I have seen the black and the silver and the silver is the way to go 100% IMO. The black is a bit dull in person, at least the one I saw. Still, some will always want black so it is coming, just not at launch. 

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Q: Are the new lenses going to be made in Silver as well?

A: Nope, Leica tried it and they said they did not like them in silver as they looked cheaper and larger. So black only.

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Q: Why wouldn’t I just buy a Fuji X-T1 and 3-4 lenses instead?

A: The Fuji X-T1 is nice. Best Fuji X to date (my review) but the Fuji is a different kind of camera. First of all, I much prefer the IQ and rendering of the T’s sensor as I just do not like the X-Trans look, my personal thing. Second, the T is made and built to a much higher standard and feels “right” than any other mirror less APS-C camera.  Third: It all depends on what you like. If you want a Leica then you will get the T. If you want a Fuji, you will get a Fuji. Both are fantastic as are mostly ALL cameras today. Even Stefan Daniel talked with me about this when he saw a Panasonic GX7 around my body. He said “that is a great camera and most of them are today“. When I asked him how Leica would compete with the likes of Fuji, Sony, Olympus he said something along the line of “It is about the experience and the fun factor..the joy of using the camera as well as the image quality..the build and design“. He is correct and is the same thing I always say..maybe he is a regular reader of my blog :) In any case, the T will offer a little bit more of a slower experience but one with amazing IQ possibilities and using M lenses is fantastic on the T. 

Q: Should I buy the T or the M 240?

A: Totally different cameras and IMO, they compliment each other. Just as the M Monochrom and a T would. The M is tops for me in joy of use and overall pride of ownership. It inspires me like no other camera. It is just so damn expensive when you start adding lenses to it. The T can get you close to the M IQ for much less cash, and when you have more cash you can add an M lens or two. But one is a rangefinder. Both are a live view camera but the T is the superior live view camera. Both are very unique in their own way and both are 100% simple in operation without anything to be confused about. Both offer stellar IQ. I think many M users will pick up the T as a backup/2nd body. Others will want to save money and buy a T. But the M is a different experience, which is what makes it the most unique digital camera today. The T offers some of that flavor but in a much different way. I enjoy both and the IQ is stellar from both.

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Q: Will the T work for indoor low light shooting such as my kids running around?

A: Well, depends on what lens you have on. Using the 18-56 zoom will not do it for you at all. I’d be using a fast M lens, even a Voigtlander 35 1.2 (that you can buy HERE) or 21 1.8 (review here). The camera is not a super fast AF camera when the light gets low. Also, the new 23 mm f/2 summicron looks great. I was able to shoot with it in NYC for a few frames and it seems to AF faster than the zoom and offer real 35 summicron IQ. That would be the best bet for indoor as you will get a wider angle and some speed. But I have yet to test it in the real world. Still, that would be the main lens for me with the T.

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Q: Is the JPEG quality usable and are there different color modes?

A: Yes, the JPEG quality is pretty crisp and clean, just as it is with the X2 and X-Vario. When shooting JPEG you can choose between standard, natural, vivid, B&W or High Contrast B&W. Vivid is super saturated with high contrast where Natural is the opposite with washed out colors and low contrast. Shooting RAW though is always best!

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My Bottom Line Conclusion

So after only one week of using and shooting the Leica T I have come to the conclusion that while not perfect (no camera is), the Leica T is a fabulous mirrorless solution from Leica. No, there is not a built-in EVF and YES the EVF that is available is not as nice as the latest from Fuji or Olympus and will set you back a cool crisp $600, but at least it is there as an option. I have said it a few times in this review and I will say it again. One thing to ALWAYS remember is that THIS IS LEICA..a real German-made Leica will NEVER EVER be cheap my friends, always know that and do not complain about the price as you know damn well it will never be low-cost. Never. Not today, not in 20 years.

While it will never be cheap, it will also never be garbage or deliver shoddy or bad IQ or have crappy build. Leica will always give top build and design and top quality glass and superb image quality. Period. They may release a product here and there that is a bit odd but when they create something special it is exciting and worthwhile.

In my week-long use I never had any frustrations or moments of anger/swearing at the camera. It never locked up and never gave me an issue, and I was even using what I was told to be a pre-production camera.

The build is as good as it gets in this class of camera and the feel and smoothness of operation was an absolute JOY. The shutter sounds fantastic and is quiet with a solid muted thud. The battery life will get you anywhere between 300-500 shots and the video is the best I have seen on a Leica to date (though I would not use this as a pro video tool).

With new lenses as well as the ability to use Leica M lenses with a Leica made adapter, this camera is one that may be appealing to those looking for a backup to their expensive M. The IQ is not far off from the M, only losing some of that full frame creaminess yet gaining amazing corner to corner sharpness when using the native or M lenses. A give and take.

In many ways, this may be best Leica digital yet for some because not everyone likes using a rangefinder.

The T has it all while only letting us down a little bit in AF speed and high ISO performance when compared to other newer cameras. This camera will not AF as fast as an Olympus E-M1 but will be comparable to a Sony A7 or NEX or other mirrorless cameras. The viewfinder is a bit much in the $$ department but does include built-in GPS (yes, in the EVF) and it does indeed have a very cool and unique design, at least in my opinion. One guy who saw the camera while I was out shooting said the EVF was the most interesting thing about the camera and made it look “super cool”. The camera also has WiFi capability and an App to control the camera. (I will report more on that as I test it).

There is 16GB of memory inside the camera in case you lose or forget your SD card! This camera is all about the details and simplicity. Again, Apple like.

Again, the 18-56 Zoom in action in Oatman AZ with the burrows

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As for image quality, this camera rocks it. The color is up there with the best I have seen from ANY APS-C or below camera and for me beats the Fuji’s, the Sony’s and even Micro 4/3 for color and richness and crisp details. Detail wise, it is as good as it gets with biting sharpness and micro contrast that helps the images to pop and is second to none.

When shooting M glass in manual focus you are one thumb dial move away from focus assist where you can magnify the screen 3X to 6X, and this is all doable while never taking  your eye from the EVF. It is a bit different from other cameras in the way that it works but very effective. The dials are solid and metal. They feel great.

The new touchscreen interface on the back is the “surprise” from Leica as this was kept a secret until the last few days, even on the so-called “leaks” at the rumor sites. In use, the screen is AMAZING! I loved it and had ZERO issues using it. In fact, it was so intuitive I started to easily prefer this to any other cameras menu system! No D-Pad, no dials, no buttons to bitch and moan about. Just a very cool Apple like interface that took me 1-2 minutes to learn. VERY VERY cool and unlike ANYTHING out there and NOTHING like the glitchy android based Samsungs. Leica is actually leading the way in this department which is amazing to say as Leica usually lags behind, lol. Leica is indeed becoming the Apple of Cameras!

All in all this is a superb camera for those who enjoy Leica or those who always wanted to try Leica. It is unlike any other camera I have shot with in recent years. It is nothing like using a Fuji, Sony or Olympus. It is a Leica and by that I mean it is better for slower pace shooting, as I said, shooting LIFE. It is superb in its build, in its operation and while it does not have the fastest AF it is perfectly usable and the main thing is that it delivers in the image quality and simplicity department just like a Leica should.

After shooting the T for just a week I have made a huge decision.

For my personal use I will eventually just own the M and a T. That is it, at least for now ;) I applaud Leica for  taking this chance and while the T will not be everyone’s cup of tea, for me, it was a hugely satisfying experience, especially when reviewing the images, many of which were taken in very harsh lighting here in Phoenix, AZ which usually causes havoc with some cameras and certain sensors.

It’s not perfect but it’s very “LeicApple” and for $1900, a good buy for someone who wants a real deal Leica.

Sure you can get a Fuji X-T1 and one decent lens for the same cost as a T body on its own but I’d take the T without question FOR ME. I personally prefer the IQ of the T as well as what it brings with it though I do adore  that X-T1 EVF and manual controls. The fact is that any camera today will deliver superb IQ and quality but if you want something different, something unique, something fun, something simple and enjoyable that also delivers the best APS-C IQ while allowing you to use the best lenses made today.

The funny thing is that there will be those who DID NOT read my review but glanced at images and skimmed this conclusion. They will go on to make ridiculous comments like “Buy a Canon instead” or “Buy an M” or “This is just like a NEX-7″. If this is you, I suggest reading the full review to get the facts and I suggest taking a look at the T.

You may just fall in love. So C’mon Leica, get to work on rolling out more fantastic glass for this system and in 3 years release a T2 with a built in EVF!

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WHERE TO BUY THE LEICA T

The Leica T is NOW for sale/pre-order at all Leica dealers. It is scheduled to start shipping the 3rd or 4th week of May 2014. I think this one will be popular, even with the M shooters wanting a backup. If you own an M of any kind from an M8 to M240 then the T may interest you as a camera you can take with you to more places, that is smaller, that is just as beautiful. A Camera that can take your M lenses and shoot very well with them. For the M lens experience you will need to spend more cash of course and break out the dough for the Visoflex and M Adapter, both of which will set you back another $1200 but for those with an extensive M lens collection, $1200 is a small investment to be able to use them on yet another Leica body.

The world of Leica is costly, we all know this. It is what it is. If you want something hand-made, something unique, something different and something that is special then it is the way to go ;) You can buy this camera and all accessories at the recommended dealers listed below who all get my #1 Approval for being world-class Leica dealers! It also helps me out when you use the dealers below as they support this web site each and every day, so I like to give back to them. Without them, I would not be here. 

Ken Hansen – Email him at [email protected] – Ken is a legend in the Leica community and will take care of you with old school service and charm. Amazing guy. This web site would not be here today if it was not for Ken, seriously.  I owe him a ton and he is the best I have ever experienced when it comes to buying gear.

PopFlash.com - Tony over at PopFlash is another Leica dealer that can hook you up with Leica as well as Fuji, Olympus and more! He is well-known in the Leica world and has been for many years.

The Pro Shop for Photographers - These guys are awesome as well, a Leica dream team. Located in Florida these guys run a Leica shop and also sell just about every other brand you can think of. 561-253-2606

B&H Photo – You can pre-order the Leica T by clicking HERE

Amazon – You can pre-order the Leica T by Clicking HERE

Leica Store MiamiPre-order HERE!

For M mount lenses on the cheap be sure to take a look at CameraQuest for the Voigtlander M lenses. These will also work on the T.

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The color that comes from the T is just like the X-Vario and X2. The files are crisp, colorful and have POP. This is with the zoom at 18mm.

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PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 5 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple. 

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – (not bookmark able) Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;)

A few more images from the T..ENJOY!

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Apr 222014
 

New 55 Film on Kickstarter. Check it out! 

Check out the video below on NEW 55 film, a new 4X5 film that is on Kickstarter. It needs your help to get funded so watch the video and check out the kickstarter page HERE to see what it is all about. So far they have $187k of $400k needed to fund with 13 days to go. If you love film, and have a passion for 4X5 then be sure to check it out.

New 55 is a new instant film that produces a positive print and an amazing negative. How cool is that?

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Apr 212014
 

Learning to See Again With the Leica M8

by Craig Litten

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I started shooting with a pseudo-rangefinder camera, the Fuji X-Pro1, in 2013, and shed the weight and bulk of my DSLR’s forever. I love and still use the X-Pro1, but I’ve wanted a Leica M6 rangefinder for over 20 years. The problem is, the M6 uses film. Film is wonderful, but it’s no longer convenient, nor is it cheap. True, you can buy a lot of film for the price of a digital Leica M, but don’t forget about the inconvenience of film. Pro photo labs have disappeared for the most part, prints are no longer done in the darkroom–and if they are, you must pay an extraordinary premium. I say “extraordinary” because it used to be fairly cheap to get a high-quality, fiber based B&W wet print (made in a real darkroom), but not any longer. There is also no lab to process the film. For years I processed my own B&W film, but I no longer own the tanks and reels, nor do I really have the time.

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So a few months ago, I purchased a used Leica M8 (M8.2 to be exact) from a friend who has since upgraded to the Leica M (Type 240)–Leica’s latest. Now I have a true rangefinder, and I’m enjoying the total rangefinder experience: manual focusing, manual exposure, a real shutter speed dial, a real, mechanical aperture ring, and a real rangefinder window. And believe it or not, once you learn how to use it, you can do things like exposure and focus faster and more accurately than with all-electronic cameras. I’m not quite there yet, but it gets easier every time I use the M8. With the Leica, I can always see what shutter speed and aperture I have set (even when it’s off), and the camera is always ready. It’s small, built like a M4 Sherman tank, and it’s incredibly discrete for street photography. So far, the only people who have noticed me while out shooting are people who know what a Leica is, and then they strike up a conversation. Otherwise, I’ve never been so ignored in all my years of street photography. Being ignored while doing street photography is a good thing.

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This brings me around to the main point of this article: learning to see again. As you can clearly see, not one photo above has people in it. Ninety-five percent of what I normally shoot, whether for work or personal use, has people in it. I’m a people shooter; yes, I shoot people. But since I got the M8, it has changed the way I feel when photographing, and the way I am seeing the world around me. Everything around me has become art. Rangefinder cameras by nature force you to slow down and think. You cannot focus as close as with a DSLR or mirrorless camera, and you no longer look through the lens, so there is a thing called parallax error at certain distances (in other words, your subject doesn’t always line up exactly where you framed it). I call this serendipity and I love it. I feel like I have too much control over my frame anyway, which comes from years of photojournalism training and thousands of assignments, so less accurate framing of my subject is fine with me. The camera is also much slower to write images to the card, which is also perfectly acceptable because I shoot far fewer shots with it. Sometimes I only shoot one frame of a given scene, whereas before, I usually shoot several.

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Surprisingly, for a camera as old as the M8, the image quality is astonishing. Leica lenses, which are second to none, might have something to do with that of course. Color can be a bit tricky, but when you nail it, it’s stunning and very Kodak Kodachrome looking–the best color film ever made. And the black & white produced from the M8′s sensor is very film-like. Grain starts to show up at ISO 320, which is great because I love grain. High ISO is basically non-existent, but so what, some of the world’s best photographers survived their entire careers shooting Tri-X, which is ISO 400 film.

Give one a try! The Leica Store Miami has a test drive program that is very reasonable. Ask for Peter; he’ll be glad to help you. If you’ve never shot with a rangefinder such as a Leica M, be prepared for a learning curve, but it gets easier, and it’s a lot of fun. Finally, when out shooting on the streets, don’t forget to “see” what else is around you. Don’t be so focused on looking like Winogrand and miss the Sam Abell moments all around you.

Please come join me for a street photography workshop this year. Go to http://www.street-photography-workshops.com for more info.

Apr 182014
 

Hello Brandon & Steve,

These three photographs were taken over the past couple months. Still continuing my trend with my trusty K1000/Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4. Since you last heard from me, my Photograph A Week mailing list has changed to my new project entitled “Aural Photography”. If you’re curious, please go to my new website:

http://www.khunyalamatpan.com/aural-photography/

You can also follow me on Flickr:

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

Yours friendly,

-Khunya

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Boat

Fuck Unoriginality

Apr 172014
 

The Real Digital FM3? Nikon Manual Lenses on the X-T1

by David Nash

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Hi Steve and readers.

Not being as young as many of you I still have a soft spot for small metal cameras with lots of dials (even if I don’t actually turn them) – and a bundle of Nikon lenses including one or 2 old bought cheaply at our local camera shop (yes we still have one in a city of 500,000!). So like many I was desperate to get my hands on the Nikon Df – and I did. But I was a bit underwhelmed and when it had to be returned because of an AF fault I took a refund rather than a replacement.

With the money I got back I’m now the delighted owner of a Nikon 24mm 1.4 and, arriving yesterday, a Fuji X-T1. And it’s definitely not going back…. But being a bit slow on the uptake I hadn’t up till now thought about using Nikon manual lenses on Fuji X cameras (I had an X-E1) and immediately ordered a Nikon fit adapter that arrived this morning. So I spent a couple of hours this afternoon shivering my way round the streets of Edinburgh with my brand new X-T1 and a 135mm f.3.5 Nikon that I picked up for less than £100. As you’ll see in the photo it’s really quite small for a 200mm equivalent focal length – but very solid and well made and quite sharp (though not in the same league as the 90mm Elmarit which I will be trying out next).

Here are few photos of bits of some of our local buildings. What I really enjoyed about using the X-T1 with the manual lens was how well the focus peaking worked (in most circumstances) and how easy it is to magnify the focus area with the focus assist button. You need to focus at max aperture to get the best result but it’s no hassle to stop the lens down a few clicks if you need some depth of field. But what I particularly like about using the X-T1 with a longer lens like is that if I turn the ISO dial to auto (yes I do actually use the dials a little) and the shutter speed to 180th of a second the camera will automatically change the ISO as I (manually) change the shutter. That way I can keep a high enough shutter speed and have complete control over the aperture. Smart! Oh, and I think you all know anyway that the Fuji sensor is rather good at high ISOs. And I did I remember to say the viewfinder is brilliant??

So – as many others seem to be saying – is this not what the Df should have been?
Thanks
David
www.davidnashphotos.co.uk

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Apr 172014
 

Bags, Bags and a Strap! New from ONA Bags

ONA bags, the company that brings us the very cool ONA Bowery and brought Leica users the Limited Edition “Berlin” that sold out within a day now brings us a few new bags to choose from in our constant quest for the perfect travel and protection companion. These were announced this week and while I have not seen them up close and in person, I have received the press release so take a look at the new offerings from ONA and to read all about them click on over to ONABAGS.COM to see pricing, colors, and all of the other good stuff they have available. ONA is a top quality manufacturer of camera bags and they make some of my all time favorites. Below are a couple of new bags, even one that may fancy the ladies ;)

The Astoria:

Astoria Sell Sheet

The Astoria camera and laptop messenger bag is designed to accommodate a 13″ laptop, 1-2 full-frame DSLR cameras, 3-5 lenses and small personal items. Handcrafted with water-resistant waxed canvas and detailed with full-grain leather, the Astoria features four exterior pockets and a front zippered compartment for memory cards, batteries and everyday essentials. A discreet luggage sleeve on the back of the Astoria can be opened to slip through the handle of a rolling suitcase or closed to act as a slim pocket for a magazine or tablet. The completely customizable interior is padded with closed-cell foam.

 

Click HERE To see more at ONABAGS

Astoria_DarkTan_Side Astoria_DarkTan_Lifestyle6 Astoria_Interior

The Capri Tote

Astoria Sell Sheet

The Capri is a chic, understated camera tote bag designed to protect a camera,
up to three lenses and small personal items. Handcrafted with dark tan waxed canvas and
trimmed with luxe leather, the Capri has a personal items compartment that can fit an iPad or 11-inch MacBook Air, two interior pockets for personal items, and a zipped back pocket. The soft leather handles allow you to wear the bag comfortably over your shoulder and a zip closure keeps items safe and secure.

 

See more at ONABAGS

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Capri Tote_2

The Leather Presidio Strap

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The Presidio camera strap is handcrafted with an Italian-tanned leather neckline that is
padded with soft neoprene. Two sets of chrome buckles allow for adjusting the length, while custom rivets provide an extra style point. The Presidio camera strap is most comfortably worn crossbody and is designed for use with camera kits weighing up to 6 pounds.

Drop Length: Adjustable from 19.5” to 23.5”
Total Length: 63”

 

See more at ONABAGS!

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Leather_Presidio_Dark Truffle

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Apr 172014
 

Hi Brandon and Steve,

I’m a long-time reader of your site and enjoy the daily inspiration contributions of your readers.

I live in New York City and mostly shoot with my Leica M. There are endless opportunities for photography in the city, but one of my favorite subjects is mannequins. The city in general, and my neighborhood in particular (Chelsea), is filled with creative and interesting window displays. (In fact, there’s even a display mannequin maker, Rootstein, on my street.) Mannequins make particularly good subjects for the deliberate manual focus of Leica shooting (they don’t move or change their expressions!).

Over time I’ve collected quite a few shots, and I thought I’d share a few here.

Thanks, and keep up the good work.

Jack Johnson

Instagram: jacksquared

Flickr: jacksquared

G+: plus.google.com/+JackJohnsonNY

Leica M, 50mm Noctilux, 1/60 at f/5.6

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Leica M, Zeiss Biogon 35mm, 1/30 @ f/2.8

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Leica M, 50mm Summilux, 1/500 @ f/1.4

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Apr 162014
 

The Sony RX1r meets the Olympus E-M1 in Iceland

By Chris Bakker

My website - http://www.chrisbakkerphoto.com

Hi Steve and readers of SteveHuffPhoto.com!

My name is Chris Bakker, a free time photographer from the Netherlands. I began to do photography around Christmas of 2012. I started off with a Sony RX100 by taking photos from all kinds of subjects what surrounded me and It didn’t took me long to really get caught by the beauty of photography . Right from the start I tried to read as many (e)books on photography as I could, follow on a daily basis the online forums and practice the acquired knowledge in the field. I am also a frequent reader of this site and let me tell you this site has giving me so much that I thought it would be time to give a little bit of my contribution in return.

Because I was so into photography I decided in the summer of 2013 to trade in my trusty RX100 for his bigger brother the RX1r. This indeed is a magical powerhouse and capable of delivering some stunning photo’s. This camera has got me even more into photography. Later that year, in November the Olympus OMD E-M1 came out and because I wanted to do different things in photography which needed faster auto focus and different focal length than 35mm, I decided to buy the E-M1 alongside my beloved RX1r and step into the world of micro 4/3.  I can say I have no regrets at all. This camera is so well designed and thought out, it works so well, it just makes you want to go out and shoot.

I often attend workshops and like to learn from the pros. So when the opportunity came by to go to Iceland for 11 days with a pro landscape photographer from the Netherlands, to learn in the field, I decided to go. So on February the 22 I went off to Iceland to return 11 days later home with an overwhelming experience by the beauty of Iceland. Not only did I came home with a lot of photos but also with a lot of acquired knowledge and practical experience.

So l’ll stop the twaddle, let’s get to the photo’s!

E-M1 pana 35-100 f2.8

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E-M1 pana 35-100 f2.8

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Kirkjufellsfoss – E-M1 Oly 12mm f2.0

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Going to Iceland in the winter takes some planning in advance. Although the temperature is about 30 degrees Fahrenheit, which isn’t too cold the wind can be really extreme. And the combination of those two makes it cold. Proper clothing, like multi layers, warm hand cloves and a fur cap is not a luxury. A good windbreaker can be a rain suit. Because of the hard wind, I can advise to take a big and sturdy tripod with you. I have come to situations where I definitely had to hold on to my MEFOTO Globetrotter tripod preventing it from falling over. A tripod can allow you to shoot at times of day when the light is unlike any other. If you want to shoot at sunrise or sunset, and you want to keep the ISO down, you need that long exposure. when you want to work with HDR you need a tripod for sure. Light is everything, don’t miss some of the best light of the day because you didn’t want to carry a tripod. What also comes in handy is to wear knee-pads. The ground is often stony and wet.

Snaefellsjoekull – RX1r

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E-M1 Oly 12mm f2.0

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Brúarfoss – E-M1 Oly 12mm f2.0

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Shining stones in river – E-M1 pana 35-100 f2.8

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While I was out making photos in the field I did quite often use my filters. There are many people that think in digital photography you don’t need filters anymore. Many think that this is also possible in post processing. When you need a slower shutter speed to blur motion, like with waterfalls, or polarizing light to reduce glare, do it with filters. Filters still enable an aesthetic that’s not possible through simple post-production, and in some cases not possible at all, even in Photoshop. Everybody has his own way of working but we people often work in sequence. We start off with 1 go to 2 than react to 3 to get to 4 or so. While this is a quite similar process as in post-production, like Lightroom, it is also a good process at point of capture. When experimenting with filters in the field you see the result immediately and that gives you the change to react to it. So it can definitely be a good thing for creativity. I used mostly a 3 stop ND filter from Singh-Ray and a Big stopper from Hoya the NX400. In a few occasions I used graduated and reverse grad filters, mostly at sunrise or sunset. For Polarizer’s, Singh-Ray Color Combo and the Gold ‘n Blue.

Skógafoss – RX1r

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Northern Lights near Vik – RX1r

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Vik Beach – E-M1 pana 35-100f2.8

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Skaftafell Icecave Vatnajökull – RX1r

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Skaftafell Icecave Vatnajökull – E-M1 Oly 12mm f2.0

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Sunset JÖKULSÁRLÓN Beach – E-M1 Oly 12mm f2.0

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Sunrise JÖKULSÁRLÓN Beach – RX1r

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What really fascinates me is that you can learn infinitely, it’s an ongoing process. Photography has become an essential part of my life. It’s so much fun, it’s a way of living. I hope you enjoy watching these photos as much as I did making them.

Chris Bakker

A few more…

Sunrise JÖKULSÁRLÓN Beach – RX1r

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Jökulsárlón Lake – E-M1 pana 35-100 f2.8

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Jökulsárlón Lake – E-M1 pana 35-100 f2.8

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Vik Beach – RX1r

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Old Turf Farm House – RX1r

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Icelandic Horse – E-M1 pana 35-100 f2.8

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Apr 152014
 

A Panasonic GX7 and 20 1.7 II Update..still a great combo!

By Steve Huff

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Just a quick update for all of you Micro 4/3 shooters out there. As some of you know, I have been shooting with Olympus cameras for the past couple of years and LOVING them, specifically the wonderful E-M1. I also enjoyed the Panasonic GX7 when I reviewed it but for me it did not stick around because I was loving the Olympus E-M1 so much. Recently I came across a used Panasonic GX7 in black along with a 20 1.7 II lens and I have been shooting it here and there for the past two weeks. Nothing major, just enjoying it and having fun with it! The only way to be!

Snapped a quick shot of this couple on a chilly day in Sedona. The guy saw me and hammed it up but his girlfriend and dog did not :) The GX7 and 20 1.7 II combo provides very sharp results. Click the images for larger and sharper view.

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After these two weeks I have grown to really enjoy the GX7 more and more. While it is quite a but different from the E-M1 in many ways, the image quality is just as good it seems, just a bit different. The Panasonic cameras always have a different color signature and many love Olympus for the colors and many love Panasonic for the higher contrast look of the files. I find the Panasonic files seem to have more drama..more edge.

ISO 3200 with the 20 1.7 II at 1.7. I used the in camera HC B&W for this one. 

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With the 20 1.7 II, the GX7 is a perfect walk around camera. Giving you a 40mm focal length magnification it is in between the popular 35mm and 50mm that many of us get stuck choosing between. With the 20, no need to choose, just go for the 40mm!

Around 6PM in Sedona AZ – deep colors here due to the fact that I dialed in some negative exposure compensation to richen up the red rocks and blue sky. 

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The GX7 in all black is pretty slick-looking. It looks more discreet than the silver and black version and is nice and light. I have also REALLY enjoyed the swivel EVF even though I am not a huge fan of the EVF quality or size. When compared to the new Fuji X-T1 EVF the GX7 looks tiny with off colors. But it does get the job done because as I have said, it really does not matter these days as ALL cameras can take a fantastic image.

Scorpion Hunting in my backyard at 8pm. These nasty little buggers come out when it gets dark and they hide in the crevices of the block fence. At night, with a backlight in hand it is easy to see them as they start to emerge for the backyard takeover. I’d guess there are probably 20-30 out there every night and one will make it into my house ever couple of weeks. I even had one under my blankets on my side of the bed last year. The sting of the Bark Scorpion is NASTY, they are the most venomous scorpion in the USA and the only one capable of causing DEATH. So much fun huh?

The GX7 and 20 1.7 II up close and personal…ISO 12,800, YES! 12,800 – f/2.8

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Today in 2014 there are so many awesome camera choices that ANYONE can get out there and enjoy photography, even with a lower budget, while getting super high quality images. Big money is not needed for truly spectacular image quality. Even though in todays fast paced tech world, the GX7 is already outdated to many, it is still a fantastic option for those wanting a simple, small, fast and high quality solution for their imaging needs. This camera and one lens would make a great family camera for all situations. Low light, good light, video, etc.

Add on the upcoming 15 1.7 and the delicious 42.5 Nocticron and you have a killer system that can do all kinds of neat tricks :) But the 20mm 1.7 II is a gem. While not the fastest to focus it continues on with the legendary status that version one brought with it in a new shiny metal package. Overall, the GX7 is the first Panasonic I have really enjoyed since the amazing (for its time) GF1.

See the 20 1.7 II Review HERE

The black GX7 can be found at Amazon HERE

The 20 1.7 II can be found at Amazon HERE

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PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 5 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple. 

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK - Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;)

Apr 152014
 

PentaxK32

Oh Pentax… I tried, I really did.

The Pentax K3 and the Crazy-Acting Mirror Sickness

by Amy Medina

What a frustrating few months it has been. I am going to preface this article by stating this: Pentax really did bend over backwards to try to make me happy, and in the end they did do the right thing for me individually, even if it doesn’t solve the issue (yet) for the many others who may come across it

So it all began back in July. Yes, July. I started having issues with my original K5 and took it to a local retailer for service, being under the silly impression they might be able to fix it there. Their salesman did not tell me otherwise, despite the fact I told him I needed the camera back in a week. Well, Mr. Salesman gave it to Mr. Repairman, not relaying my urgent need for the camera back, and off it went to Pentax without my knowledge.

To keep this long story as short as I can, I’ll spare you all the phone calls and back and forth trying to figure out what was going on with my camera and how much it was going to cost to fix, and who messed up by sending it in the first place (because I could have done that myself)… etc. etc. and fast forward to OCTOBER when I finally got the camera back, not fixed. It was then they finally agreed to fix it for free after all my trouble, and the local Pentax Rep got involved and gave me a K5-II loaner to use. My K5 went back to Pentax.

Then the K3 came out, so I decided to jump in. I was getting a lot more professional work and, though I was frustrated with my recent experience, gave Pentax and my local retailer another chance. The retailer knocked some money off the price of the camera for all my trouble, so I set out to shoot lots of timelapse for my client with my new K3 and my loaner K5-II.

And little did I know, the drama had barely begun.

Almost right away I started having issues with the K3 locking up. In Pentax-Land, we call this “runaway mirror syndrome” or as I like to call it, “Crazy-Acting (or Crazy-Ass) Mirror Sickness” (CAMS). What happens is this: You’re going about your business taking photos or shooting timelapse or whatever, and suddenly, without warning, the mirror goes nuts, starting to slap away rapidly, like a machine gun. The camera goes completely unresponsive when this happens and all you can typically do is pop out the battery to get it to stop. It takes no photos while it’s going nuts either, so whatever shot you were trying to take, well that moment is lost forever. Whatever timelapse you were trying to capture is now lost and interrupted until you stop the camera and get it set back up again to start reshooting.

At first, I obviously thought it was a fluke. Or then maybe it was caused by the weather (it was very cold here). But as time went on, with almost every timelapse shoot I went to, the camera would lock up and go mirror-crazy. I’ve been doing anywhere from one to three of these timelapse shoots per week, so me and the crazy flapping mirror became good friends. And there have been other “silent” lockups too, where the camera just stops shooting and responding.

Having had the contact with the Pentax Rep and Pentax Repair directly now (because of those original K5 problems), I used those contacts to report this problem. And for a long while, I was happy to do testing for them (and for me) to see if we could narrow the problem down. Here’s what I found out.

Crazy-Acting Mirror Sickness (CAMS) of the K3 – A Summary

  • It happens in any temperature, from 10º (F) to 50º (F). So it’s not just in cold weather.
  • It happens in humid (even drippy foggy) weather, as well as dry. Not likely static.
  • It happens indoors and outdoors. So that eliminates most environmental causes.
  • It happens with a multitude of SD cards… different brands and sizes.
  • It happens with a multitude of batteries, from old original K5 batteries to brand spanking new K3 batteries.
  • Pentax even sent me a shiny new NEW battery to try, and it happened with that too.
  • All batteries I’ve used and tried are genuine Pentax ones.
  • I’ve never used third-party batteries, but I’ve heard of others with the issue who have.
  • It happens whether the battery is fully charged, or much more depleted. Doesn’t matter.
  • It happens with all my lenses, not just one.
  • It happens whether you use live-view or not.
  • It happens with one SD card in the camera, or with two.
  • It happens with Shake Reduction on, or with it off.
  • It happens in M (Manual) mode, Av (Aperture Priority Mode) and User Mode.
  • It happened to me shooting timelapse, but reports indicate it happens in all drive modes, including single-shot and continuous shooting.

Another Pentaxian I met online set out to recreate the issue himself, and it happened to him the first day he tried to recreate it. He had the issue crop up with the battery grip. I have never used the battery grip. So it happens with and without.

One user had it happen with the AC Adaptor.

It has happened with all firmware versions, including the latest 1.03.

First part of the video shows a silent lockup. Second half shows the CAMS issue…

 

And worst of all… it happened to me across two K3 bodies.

After all this testing and writing to Pentax Repair about it, they finally told me to exchange the body for a new one. That happened in February. I went to my retailer and he gave me a new K3. That was a Saturday. The following Monday I went to a time-lapse shoot, got half way through the day without a problem (and was feeling optimistic)… and then, just after lunch, this out-of-the-box, new K3 body fell into Crazy-Ass Mirror Sickness.

You can imagine, I wasn’t happy.

Where does that leave me now? Well, very frustrated and disappointed.

Through all of this I’d been communicating with Pentax Repair, who liked to tell me they couldn’t reproduce the issue, which honestly, leaves me asking if they are trying hard enough. It happens to me at nearly every shoot. I know the tech is trying to be helpful when he asks me a lot of questions, but when they are the same questions over and over I get a little irritated. When I send him video of the problem and he tells me “it doesn’t show me anything but your settings” until I tell him to turn up his volume, well you can imagine more than frustration.

And now, my time with the K3 is over. It has been returned in favor of two K5-IIs bodies. So far, with 25,000 shutter actuations on one and 15,000 on the other, I haven’t had any issues. I’ve also bought the Fuji XT1, and since that is time lapse capable, I’ll be testing that out while researching and exploring other options out there as well.

And I will repeat, I am disappointed. Mostly, because I liked the K3 in every other way!

  • Image quality: Outstanding
  • Performance (other than CAMS and random silent lockups): Great
  • High ISO performance: Excellent
  • Autofocus: Much better (more accurate) than original K5
  • Feature-Set: Impressive
  • Size & Weight: Perfect for DSLR
  • Battery Life: Nothing short of amazing
  • Value vs. price: Excellent

but…

  • Service: Very slow.

and…

  • Reliability: Very poor.

… and the end bit, well that’s actually most important when you’re shooting stuff for a paying client.

 

In the end, Pentax is taking care of me. They have let me exchange the K3 out for something else. They fixed that original K5 for me for free because of the retailer’s debacle. They have tried to make me happy. They’ve heard my complaints for months (and to my own credit, have had the benefit of my patient testing for all that time too).

But it makes me sad they haven’t come to a conclusion as to what causes this problem on their flagship DSLR. If they don’t figure it out, it’s possible future bodies will suffer the same problem. If they won’t take the time to reproduce it so they can see what’s happening, it won’t be solved for the other people who run into the issue. I know my shooting is somewhat unique… and because of the weekly timelapse shoots, I run into the issue more regularly, by sheer law of averages. But I’ve heard stories from other Pentaxians who are just shooting regular, typical photography and run into the issue as well. Not good. Not good at all.

Matter of fact, I started a thread at the PentaxForums for people to report the issue, and in a month’s time, it’s accumulated 74 reports of this same issue. And most of those people weren’t shooting timelapse at all.

Other K3 Users Reporting the Issue

I’m not a kid having a tantrum here. My only hope is that Pentax sees this as the serious issue it truly is and decides it’s important enough to track down, address and fix. I’ve actually recommended Pentax cameras directly and indirectly (through reviews) over the years, and have converted several photographers into Pentaxians, amateurs and professionals alike. I want Pentax to be my go-to work camera. And they want me on their side… especially when I’m one of the few who actually likes the K-01. LOL

A great number of you may never run into this issue… and for that I’m glad.

If you don’t shoot time-lapse or weddings/events professionally, journalism or even birds/animals/nature, it’s probably not an issue to worry too much about… at least in the sense that it will cause you wide-spread problems. If you have to depend on it to get specific shots that you cannot “do over”, and if the camera is getting heavy use, then I’d rethink relying on the K3 until this issue is fixed.

The silver lining in all of this is that as much testing as I’ve done to the K3, I’ve also done to the K5-II… and the K5-II has been rock solid. Not a second of trouble in all the same conditions at all the same shoots. No lockups, no mirror gone cray-cray, no corrupt SD cards or files… not one issue at all. The K5-IIs bodies are proving just as reliable so far. At least we know it’s possible for Pentax/Ricoh to produce a dependable, well performing camera. What is frustrating is that their newest model, with all it’s wonderful new features appears not to be that camera.

I didn’t WANT to give up the K3. In every other way I was truly impressed by the camera and the K5-IIs/K5-II is a step backwards. They have tried to help me, but the exchange isn’t a solution to the problem, only a solution to my predicament at the moment. If it is never fixed, does that mean we’ll all have to worry about the same issue coming up again in their next model? At this point, I’d say that is likely, and that is quite unfortunate.

Below I will share some of the photos I’ve taken for my own enjoyment in the time I’ve owned the K3, and timelapse videos for you to see. I hope you enjoy them. If you’re a Pentax user who has experienced CAMS, please report it to Pentax, even if it only happened to you once. Don’t be silent. If you haven’t had the issue, I hope you never do… and truly, just go forth and enjoy your Pentax K3. But for this issue, there’s a lot to enjoy there.

Follow me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DangRabbitPhotography

Twitter: @DangRabbit

Google+: www.gplus.to/DangRabbit

icecreamandbridge

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Apr 112014
 

The legend : A Leica story

By Yves Oliver

I am an enthusiast 47 years old photographer. I live in Belgium, so forgive me for my possible bad english. But first, before the pictures, a true Leica story….or how I finally bought an M8.

Back to…1944 !

My father was a 12 years old boy and passionate about…photography. In 1944, that meant a foldable 6×9 Zeiss Nikon and, of course, black and white film. Living in a village in South Belgium, he was by far the only guy aware of photography. It was the end of the Second World War in Europe and the Germans were going back home. A German troop stopped in the village and an officer spent the night in my father’s house. He had a Leica (probably Leica III). It was the brand new top camera at the time coming from Germany : shiny, tiny and easy to use with 35mm film. My father had his eyes wide open. The next morning, the soldier left to join his troop and….forgot his camera on the kitchen table. My father was dying to keep it without a doubt ! These were dangerous time, the Germans were nervous because they were losing the war and the family could have been accused to have stolen the camera. You could be shot for nothing. “Too dangerous” said my grandmother who forced his son to run after the officer and give him the Leica back. You have to imagine the fear of the young boy among enemy soldiers, and his disappointment for holding a dream camera for a few seconds before giving it back.

10 years later, he had become an engineer and with his very first pay, he bought a Rolleicord 6×6. At the time, if you shot sport or actualities you used Leica, if you shot landscape you used Rollei. Simple. That was before Japanese cameras. He travelled, so he chose Rollei, but in his heart, he never forgot the Leica he once dreamed about during the war. He continued with Rollei, then Exacta, later with Olympus but never with Leica.

15 years later, he had a boy (me) and give him the photography virus. I learned with him, spent time in the darkroom with black and white prints, and with the years, I owned different cameras from Minolta to digital Nikon. When he died, I gave most of his old gear to a famous photography museum (except the Rolleicord I still use !). A part of my life had gone with him but I knew something was missing to close the circle . He had told me the story many times and, as a child, I also dreamed about the “legendary Leica from the war”. In memoriam to him, for my pleasure, and for the father and son dream could finally come true, I bought a used silver M8 with a Summicron 35 for my 45th anniversary. A real gem, he would have been happy for me.

I now have a 5 years old daughter who began shooting with a cheap Coolpix. I wander if the name of Leica will still mean something for her in twenty years…

Yves Oliver

Pictures on Flickr : www.flickr.com/photos/51484580@N07

General website : www.yvesoliver.com

Book : www.blurb.fr/user/yvesoliver

Now, some of my pictures (Leica M8 + Summicron 35 mm, all processed with Silver Fx Pro)

Blankenberg L 25

Phil & Nils L 14

Krka 1

 

Apr 102014
 

Tokyo, Tokyo, home of Moriyama and Nakahiri, deep blacks and stark whites, grainy, blurred, shocking contrasts over a quirky but sensual rhythm .

By Colin Steel – His web site is HERE

Tokyo has long-held a strange magnetism for me but it has been a long and uncomfortable path to even get to the beginning of understanding this magnificently complex city and its wonderful people. I have been travelling there for over six years and trying to make sense of it photographically for the last two years. It bewilders me, hurts me, loves me but above all enthrals me like no other city I know of. Its incredible complexity and compression of space creates a system of polite mannerism that is at wild contrast with the creativity of many of its artists who, for me, have pushed the boundaries of photography with their beat poem rhythms and blatant disregard of conventional structures. I feel honoured to tread the same streets of Shinjuku and Shibuya as Daido and stop into the tiny bars drinking and searching for the internal buzz that will free me from my rational straightjacket. I like to think that every city I visit has a rhythm and Tokyo is my Bill Evans. It has a perfect, hushed, mellow, modal meandering that is all to infrequently punctuated by strange ventures into the upper registers for that short, sharp thrill and excited recognition of something that we all have and glimpse only so very, very rarely. This is what photography is to me now, the never-ending search for encounters with that fleeting spirituality that combines shapes, light, dark, expressions, movements, glances and beauty into sudden realisation of the perfection that exists in our imperfect world, play on Bill Evans…………………

Colin 01

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Colin 05

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Colin 07

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Apr 082014
 

LEICAS

Save $5000 on a Leica S (Typ 006) Camera! 

You can take advantage of this deal at any Leica dealer as far as I am aware, including B&H Photo, PopFlash.com, Ken Hansen, The Pro Shop or Leica Store Miami…

From the Leica Store Miami’s Website:

“As part of its centennial celebrations, “100 Years of Leica Photography,” Leica Camera is pleased to offer the S-System Trade Up Program effective April 1, 2014 through June 30, 2014. Through this program, customers can trade in any SLR camera or medium format camera (film or digital) towards the purchase of a new Leica S (Typ 006) digital medium format camera and receive a $5,000 instant credit. Please note that only one instant credit can be applied to each new Leica S (Typ 006) purchase.

To participate in this program, you can send (or bring it by, if you are in the area) any film or digital SLR or medium format camera to Leica Store Miami and receive an instant credit on your purchase for $5,000. The credit will only apply towards the purchase of a brand new Leica S (Typ 006) camera from an authorized Leica USA dealer, store, or boutique. The program begins on April 1, 2014 and ends June 30, 2014.

If you wish to learn more about the program or the Leica S (Typ 006) camera, please do not hesitate to call Leica Store Miami at 305-921-4433 or send us an email with any questions.”

Apr 062014
 

SONY

The new Sony A7s brings amazing high ISO, 4K video and crazy creative possibilities!

So I have been busy all weekend with some travel (so am a couple of hours late with this) but MAN OH MAN did Sony just KILL it with the latest announcement. The new SONY A7s which will be a full frame A7 but with a 12.2 MP BRAND NEW sensor with insane crazy high ISO capabilities up to over 400,000 ISO. Imagine the possibilities…you have a nice fast lens attached, a nice small file size, no noise. Astrophotography anyone? INSANE! Low light interior? INSANE!

This new sensor will, according to Sony, offer the best dynamic range and noise performance of ANY full frame camera. Period. I love the fact that this has a 12.2 MP sensor! SMALL file sizes with RICH gorgeous tonality. I have said for years that 10MP is enough for any use, and 16 is maximum that is needed. 12.2 is sweet and should bring up the performance of this sensor. Wow. Sony did it again. I had no clue about this one, they did not even tell the press about it.

Sony is one of the most forward thinking companies out there and they have just proved it again with the new Sony A7s. Pricing and Availability is yet to be determined. I guess $1800 for the body, but it is just a guess. The A7s seems like it will be the perfect body for those who want HQ video AND images in one. Of course we will have to wait and see but I will keep you all informed as it progresses. I already told Sony I MUST have one for review when they are ready!

B&H Photo already has it listed HERE!

sony2

ISO 50-409600

Amazingly high dynamic range

4K recording 

The “S” means “sensivity

Take a look at the official Sony video showing an example often ISO possibilities.

And the video possibilities:

and the official press release:

Sony’s α7S Full-Frame Camera Realizes a New World of Imaging Expression

Features newly developed, wide dynamic range sensor with awe-inspiring sensitivity

SAN DIEGO, April 6, 2014 – Joining the acclaimed α7 and α7R family of the world’s smallest full-frame interchangeable lens cameras1, Sony’s new α7S model puts extraordinary sensitivity, low noise and spectacular 4K video quality into the hands of professional photographers and videographers.

The innovative α7S camera features a newly developed, 12.2 effective megapixel 35mm Exmor® CMOS sensor paired with a powerful BIONZ X image processor, allowing it to shoot at a sensitivity range of ISO 50 – 4096002 with unprecedented dynamic range and low noise.

The new model is also the world’s first camera to utilize the entire width of a full-frame image sensor in 4K video acquisition, and does this without cropping or line skipping as it can read and process data from every one of the sensor’s pixels. This allows 4K video shooters to utilize all of the artistic and creative benefits provided by the unique sensor.

“The α7S gives Sony the most complete, versatile lineup of full-frame cameras in market today,” said Neal Manowitz, director of the interchangeable lens camera business at Sony Electronics. “Between the α99, VG900, RX1, α7, α7R and now α7S models, we have completely revolutionized what it means to be a ‘full-frame’ camera, bringing a new level of quality and portability to enthusiast photographers and videographers.”

Wide ISO Sensitivity (ISO 50 – 409,6002) and Impressive Dynamic Range

Sony, the world’s largest manufacturer of image sensors, has developed a unique 12.2 MP sensor with extraordinary sensitivity that allows the α7S camera to collect dramatically more light than traditional cameras and to produce beautifully detailed, low-noise images in even the darkest environments.

The camera also features a newly developed on-sensor technology that allows it to optimize the dynamic range throughout the entirety of the ISO50 – 409,600 sensitivity range. This on-sensor technology also broadens the range of tonal gradation in bright environments and minimizes noise in dark scenes, allowing the camera to deliver impressive results in these extreme conditions where other cameras (and image sensors) typically struggle.

World’s First Full-Frame Camera with Full Pixel Read-out3 (without pixel binning) during Movie Shooting

With the new α7S camera, the high-speed read out of the 35mm full-frame image sensor combined with the high-speed processing of the BIONZ X processor enables significant improvements in video quality.

These powerful components allow the camera to process data from all of the sensor’s pixels and output stunning HD and 4K (QFHD 3840 x 2160 pixels) video3 while utilizing the full-width of the sensor. In addition to the benefits for low-light shooting, the read out of all pixels frees the video from aliasing, moiré and false color artifacts (as opposed to pixel binning) to achieve the highest quality video.

Additional Pro-Quality Video Functions

In video mode, the α7S can output 4K video4 at QFHD (3840×2160) to an optional external 3rd party 4K recorder, and can record full HD (1920×1080) at frame rates of 60p, 60i, 30p and 24p directly to a compatible memory card. Video modes can be changed from full-frame to APS-C (super 35mm equivalent) if desired, and in this crop mode, the camera can support high frame rate 120fps shooting at standard HD resolution (1280 x 720p), creating a 5x slow-motion effect.

The α7S camera is also equipped with S-Log2 gamma. Common to Sony’s range of professional video cameras, S-Log2 expands the dynamic range by up to 1300% to minimize clipped highlights and loss of detail in shadows. Additionally, for the first time ever in a Sony α camera, the α7S adopts the workflow-friendly XAVC S recording format in addition to AVCHD and MP4 codecs. XAVC S format allows for full HD recording at a data rate of 50 mbps with lower compression for improved video quality.

Other specialist video functions on the new camera include a picture profile that can adjust settings like gamma, black, level and color adjustment, and can be saved for use in a multi-camera shoot. It also has Full HD and 4K base band HDMI® output, time code/user bit for easier editing, synchronous recording feature with compatible devices, various marker and zebra displays on both the LCD screen and viewfinder and can dual record XAVC S as well as MP4 (1280×720 @30p).

The camera also has a Multi-terminal interface shoe that is compatible with Sony’s XLR Adaptor Microphone Kits (XLR-K1M plus a new model under development), allowing the use of professional microphone systems.

Low-light Shooting Advantages

The high ISO sensitivity range of the α7S camera is extremely effective for still image shooting, especially in low-light conditions, where the camera can shoot at high shutter speeds while keeping noise as low as possible. This is particularly useful for shooting indoor, dimly lit sporting events or other situations where most cameras typically struggle.

The camera is also equipped with the same high-precision Fast Intelligent AF system as the α7R camera, with drastically improved low-light AF sensitivity that can go as low as -4EV.

Expanding α Mount System and New Power Zoom Lens for Movie Shooting

Directly compatible with the growing family of E-mount lenses, the α7S camera can also be used with A-mount and others lens systems with optional adapters. Sony’s complete α lens system now includes 54 total lenses for both A and E mounts, including several premium offerings from Carl Zeiss® and G Series Lenses.

As a whole, Sony’s E-mount lens system is particularly well-suited for video shooting, with a variety of models containing “movie-friendly” features like smooth focusing, powered zoom control, and silent iris/aperture control. Building on this, Sony has announced development of a brand new, full-frame power zoom 28-135mm F4 lens E-mount lens that is an ideal match for the powerful movie capabilities of the α7S model.

Pricing and availability of the α7S full-frame interchangeable lens camera will be announced at a future date. To learn more about the product in the meantime, please visit www.store.sony.com, and follow #SonyAlpha on twitter for the latest α camera news.

Apr 032014
 

Hi Brandon and Steve,

My name is Yudhi Krisnawardhana, I’m from Bandung, Indonesia and I have been following your site everyday for almost 3 years now. Your site has been an inspiration to me about all things photography.

Thanks to your review I recently traded my Nikon D90 and a couple of lenses for a used OMD EM-5. I’m not a professional photographer and I just shoot what is interesting to me so I’m sending you a few photos of my newborn nephew since he has been the center of attention in my family for the past few weeks. I loved how the OMD is so small and flexible that I can shoot it with my old Nikkor lenses and still have the “A ” mode work. I also loved that the sound of the shutter is not too loud so I can get close and not startle my nephew.

The images are all shot with an OMD with either a Nikkor 28mm f2.8 AIS or 50mm f1.4.

I’m glad you have the daily inspiration post so all of your readers even someone half across the globe like me have a chance to reach out to you, share their passion about photography and show you their appreciation of this great site.

Thank you,

Yudhi

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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