Dec 012010
 

LEICA PRICE HIKES ON THE MP AND M7??

Well it appears Leica has raised the prices on their film cameras..at least B&H Photo and even a couple of other shops have already made the price increase. Looks like the new price is up about $400. If you want a new Leica MP or a new Leica M7, be prepared to pay $4995. OUCH!!! I just hope Leica isn’t planning another increase with their lenses or their digital line.

Dec 012010
 

Q&A Wednesday is back, but first some updates…

Looking for unique, fun, helpful and inspiring guest posts!

Hey guys! It’s Wednesday and I am happy to say I am returning the Q&A Wednesday posts/column/article. Not sure what it is but I have been revived lately. I have a new energy and a new drive and I have decided to put even MORE time in to  this site (I already sit half the day working on it and the other half out shooting!) to pump it up to the next level. Right now I am writing a few new articles and am also looking for more guest articles from all of you! This site has always been about the community and those with a true passion for photography. Doesnt matter if you shoot for a living or just shoot flowers in your yard, what matters most is that you are having FUN doing it!

So I am putting out a calling for those with passion. If you have anything you would like to share with this community of passionate photographers who are just like  you send me an e-mail and let me know. I always love to see cool articles that inspire and help others and I can’t do it all! With that said, I am happy that all of you come here on a daily basis. Traffic is UP again and November was my biggest month yet with over 680,000 visits! It’s awesome to share thoughts, opinions and info with like minded people and the past guest articles have been all of that and more! Let’s keep it up!

UPDATE – The Forums

The forums have now been up for one month and i managed to get 1000 registrations in November! Not bad at all and so far the conversations have remained 100% civil. I have not had to moderate ONE post so that is awesome :) Goes to show the quality and class of the readers here, and that is what I hoped for when I launched them.

Feel free to register for the site (it’s free and I would NEVER use your email or info..as a matter of fact, I do not even see it) so you can participate in the forums. I am also taking suggestions for forum topics because it has been 30 days and I want to remove the ones that are not getting traffic and maybe add one or two that you would like to see. Let me know! You can check them out HERE..feel free to participate!

Q&A Wednesday!

The following questions are all REAL questions that have been e-mailed to me in recent weeks or months. Instead of answering every single e-mail I receive (sometimes 200+ a day) this weekly post will showcase many of the questions along with my full answers. Enjoy!

I’ll start off with a long one…

Question: Hey Steve, I’m a fan of your site, love your write-ups and reviews. I need your opinions on rangefinders based on your experience, expertise. Basically, I started photography with a DSLR only to take photographs of my family and document the arrival and growth of my baby. I have very little experience with film compacts and SLRs. I love take pictures that captures moments, expressions, emotions and I would say Street Photography is the genre I am very attracted to. I want to get a rangefinder to do all those and rangefinder is my choice for its inconspicuousness and weight. I like to keep a somewhat close distance to my subject to have at least some kind of interaction but not disrupting whatever they are doing. So, I’m torn between going film or digital. I love how I can take pictures with digital and view it instantly. I am also very receptive to learn how to right from basics and understanding light and how film photography can be different from digital. I also love how film render the images I’ve taken with the details, contrasts and such. My question here is, would you advise a newbie like me to go digital or film? With my financial capabilities, I am only allowed to get either a M6 TTL or M8/8.2. Please shed some light. Appreciate your comments and help. Hope to hear from you really soon. Regards, Jimmy

ANSWER: Hey Jimmy! Thanks for the question and the details. This is a tough one because the whole film/digital debate continues to go on and on. One one side you have your pro film guys who love film to death and shoot their film 98% of the time. They swear by film and say its the best. No contest. On the other side you have your digital guys who say film is drying up, its dying and way to expensive and time consuming. They say digital is the way to go and much cheaper.

I have a little bit of both of those sides in me…

I LOVE film. I LOVE the Leica M film cameras. I also LOVE digital and the M9 is the ultimate digital RF in my opinion. What you need to do is lay out the pros and cons of each system before you decide. When you DO decide, you need to make that choice for yourself based on your needs and wants.

FILM: PROS

An M6 TTL is a beautiful camera. It feels better than an M8 and is thinner. Shooting film can yield wonderful results and choosing your own look is just a matter of choosing a certain film stock and lab. FIlm has latitude (print film and B&W) and is pretty forgiving. Shoot some Tri-X on the street with a Leica 50mm and you are guaranteed to get that classic look to your photos.

FILM: CONS

Film is expensive these days. Buy a roll of film for $5-$10 and then it has to be processed. You get 36 exposures and one ISO/ASA. When I was shooting loads of film the cost was killing me. I was spending $up to $30 a roll between the film and the processing and scanning. If you scan yourself be prepared for several hours behind your computer. Sure, film is nostalgic and fun but can be costly and  time consuming. You have to ask yourself if the beautiful and timeless looks are worth it to you.

DIGITAL M8.2: PROS

An M8.2 is a very nice camera. Build is nice, and in black paint it is the sexiest digital ever made IMO. The shutter is quiet, and you get instant feedback. Shoot 10 images or 1000 and you have them all right there and ready to unload to your computer. I have taken some of my best images with an M8/M8.2 and it is a camera that is near and dear to my heart. Plop on a 35 Lux 1.4 and be wowed.

DIGITAL M8.2: CONS

Expensive even used and you can only buy these used these days. Expect to pay anywhere from $2800-$3700 for one depending on condition. The M8.2 sensor is a little dodgy after ISO 640 and after that it is all about exposure. Get that right and you can shoot at 1250. The M8.2 absolutely needs IR/UV filters or else you will get some nasty magenta and purple colors to things you could have sworn were black :). Some M8.2′s may have tens of thousands of shutter fires on them so you have to be careful when buying used. Other than that, the M*.2 is a nice and solid camera.

Good luck Jimmy and thanks for the question!

-

Question: Hey Steve! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! You are getting me all gear-lusting again. Thinking about getting the NEX to replace my EP2. The high ISO and faster AF is the selling point for me. A few questions though.

1 – Does using Leica lens significantly improve the sharpness of the images? If yes, can you please post a few photos in your website or email them to me?

Answer: Yes, Leica lenses will be sharper on the NEX due to the softness and distortion of  the kit lenses. Actually, the kit lenses are great for what they are but they can be a but soft in the corners and the thing that bugged me most about them was the distortion. Leica lenses do not distort so yea, they will be cleaner, sharper and have no real distortion on the NEX. BUT…shooting Leica lenses on the NEX can be slow as you will be all manual focus. Keep that in mind. I posted a few samples HERE.

2 – When using MF lenses, does the NEX automatically magnify the image in the LCD screen upon the turn of the focus tab, or is the user required to press a button (or two)?

Answer: You have to press the button but it’s quick and easy. No complaints.

3 – Do you believe it’s worthwhile spending $100 – 200 extra dollars (depending on the kit I get) to get the NEX5 instead of NEX3?

Answer: The extra $100 is well worth it IMO. Better body, better grip, better HD video, and smaller. I tried both and much prefer the NEX-5. Worth the $100, YES.

4 – Which would produce better image at ISO400? NEX + 28 Elmarit or Leica X1 or M8.2 + 28 Elmarit?

Answer: I get this ALL the time and honestly I am not qualified to answer as I have not done this test side by side. From memory, I would venture to guess an M8.2 and 28 Elmarit would give you the best file, followed by the X1 and then the NEX. All would be good, but the M8.2 sensor is highly capable though it doesn’t have an ISO 400 setting. :) There is no AA filter on the M8.2 so you will get a fantastic file. Then again, the NEX is damn good as well but the whole thing…IQ, and usability goes to the M8.2 IMO.

Thanks again for a great website. I’m also VERY happy to see that you sound much happier than a few months ago. Best regards, Armando

Thanks Armando!

-

Question: Hey Steve, I´m lookin´ for a new camera, it must be small & light weight, a “all in one” model, and I think it must be a LEICA. My approach is of an ambitioned amateur. I found your site and like it very much, cause it seems to be on daily reality and not even on artificial labority data sampling if you know what I mean (I hope my English is not that bad and you understand what I´m trying to say !!). I read your reviews about the X1 and the D-Lux 4, they seemed to be very helpful to me, but there are some few questions I´d like to ask to you.

* Is the quality of the X1 really worth twice the price of the D-Lux 4 ? The pictures will be shown on a 24″ Mac screen or printed in DIN-A 4

Answer: Yes, the X1 quality is MUCH nicer and costs MORE than twice as much as a D-Lux 4. The X1 has an APS-C sized sensor which is much larger than the small sensor in the D-Lux 4. Therefore, with the D-Lux you will get more grain and noise, especially at ISO’s above 400. The D-Lux 4 was best in class for a compact but the X1 came along and overtook it. The X1 is great but comes at a high price, and it’s slow AF is a bit frustrating at times (though there is a firmware update coming that will fix this).

* Has the new D – Lux 5 the same quality as the D – Lux 4 ?

Answer: Pretty much, yes. I found the D-Lux 5 to be slightly better than the 4 in the IQ dept but also likes its new 1:1 feature on the lens barrel as well as the much improved HD Video capabilities. The D-Lux 5 is my favorite *compact* camera under the X1. Great photos can be had and it’s AF is super fast, much faster than the $2000 X1 but again, the smaller sensor kind of kills its performance at high ISO’s when compared to the X1.

I would be happy if you could send me a short note about that. Thanx for the time that it may take, best wishes and greetings from Klaus (Hamburg / Germany)

Thank YOU and Happy to help!

-

Dec 012010
 

Hi Steve,

I have been following your blog for a year now. Back then I have been googeling for some information on the Leica M9 when I found your site. Then I spent some months on a waiting list (I live only 70 Kilometers from Solms, but that doesn’t help a bit), working hard as a freelance journalist and saving up money. You know how it is when you want something badly but unfortunately you are not rich. During that time your blog was really helpful in regards of lens choice and general reassurance that ruining myself financially is the right thing to do :)

In February I got my M9 and now I take it everywhere: To work, to parties, shopping, on vacations. (I convince myself the more photos I take, the cheaper each photo becomes. This thing has to pay itself off.) And bad weather is no excuse for leaving the camera at home. In fact, wet cobblestones and colourful umbrellas often make nice photo opportunities.

So I send you three examples of bad weather in Europe, taken with cold wet hands and a camera that has so far survived everything from summer heat to hard rain. (Snow has yet to be tested this winter.) I hope you like them. No.1 was taken in Frankfurt, my hometown, with a Voigtländer Nokton 35/1.2. No. 2 in Brescia, Italy, with my old Summilux 50 pre-asph. and No. 3 in Mantua, Italy, with the Voigtländer Nokton again. (Yes, I love Italy.)

You find my flickr here:

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

and my photoblog here:

http://color.antville.org/

Keep on blogging and shooting! Thank you for what you do!

Andrea

Nov 302010
 

COULD THERE BE AN EPSON R-D2 IN THE NEAR FUTURE?

Lots of buzz going around some of the photo websites today that Epson may be working on a successor to the beloved R-D1, which was the first digital rangefinder camera ever! Released in 2004, and available in 2005, I was one of the first to own one of these cameras and I LOVED IT. To this day I still have a soft spot for the R-D1 and even at the NYC street meetup last month one of the attendees brought along his Epson to shoot with. When I held it I remembered why I loved it so much. It is solid. It feels AMAZING in my hand. It has a swivel LCD. The analogue dials up top are beautiful. It has a film advance lever that you must cock when you shoot a photo. A 100% Viewfinder. It’s like shooting a film RF but digital. Oh, and the files and colors were ahead of its time and for those who do not know, yea,  it has a Leica M mount.

So…will Epson bring out a successor to the legendary R-D1?

Here is the qoute from someone at Epson which caused the stir:

“Whether we come out with another version of the R-D1 is a possibility,’ said Rob Clark, executive director of Epson’s European Marketing Division. He also said the firm would re-enter the digital camera arena if it felt such a product was ‘commercially viable’.

Well, to me that doesnt really sound like they are working on an R-D2 but if you look at what he said it is possible. I think we all know that a product like an R-D2 is “commercially viable”. Look at the huge success of the Leica M9! Leicas profits are up 40% and they are doing amazingly well. From near bankruptcy to huge profits. All due to the M9 and the lenses.

So I would say to Epson – BRING IT ON! Leica needs the competition as it will ensure they really work hard at the next digital M and the Epson would most certainly be more affordable, which would allow many more of us to get into a digital Rangefinder camera. I know I would buy one in a heartbeat.

So this post is not just another fluff post to say “HEY, Epson may be working on an R-D2″ – No, this is a post to celebrate the R-D1 (which was and still is a kick ass camera) AND to tell Epson to BRING OUT AN RD-2! I think today more than ever more and more shooters are getting interested in RF photography and with the interest that the Leica M9 has created, I think an R-D2 would be a home run hit. It’s funny but back in 2004 when the R-D1 came out it had pretty nice ISO 1600 performance, especially in black and white. The out of camera B&W files were VERY nice and the color was also superb. Id love to see what Epson could do with todays technology and sensors. Could be exciting…

So with all of this R-D1 talk, I dug up a couple of shots that I took with my old R-D1 from back in 2005. All hail the R-D1! If any of you ever see a nice clean used on for sale at a good price SNAG IT! You wont regret it.

All images from the Epson RD-1 and Leica 50 Summilux ASPH circa 2005 – Goes to show…there are scenic areas in Arizona…just have to get out of Phoenix!

PLEASE HELP TO SUPPORT THIS SITE TO KEEP IT GOING AND GROWING! I CAN’T DO IT ALONE!

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

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

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter or facebook! Also, you can subscribe to my feed at my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader!

Also, the new forums are NOW OPEN on this site so get involved if you like! Thanks so much for visiting my site!

Nov 292010
 

NEW LEICA X1 FIRMWARE COMING…..


I heard it direct from Leica today that there is indeed a new firmware update on the way for the Leica X1! This update will feature “numerous enhancements” . I was also told that two of these enhancements would be “advanced AF speed and MF options, including Depth of Field scale.”  - I did not get a release date but was told it is still being worked on and that it will enhance the functionality of the X1 so this is GREAT news as the AF speed was my main niggle with this camera. I heard from a few other sources that the AF speed is supposed to be twice as fast..so I truly hope Leica pulls it off. Can’t wait for the update! If anyone was thinking of a new Black X1 (which should hit the shelves SOON SOON SOON)…there is new life waiting to be breathed into the camera so jump on it if the X1 is what you have been eyeballing :) One thing is for sure, the file quality out of this little guy is truly gorgeous (as all of you X1 owners know).

Nov 292010
 

THIS IS NOT MY RICOH GXR REVIEW! It will be up THIS WEEK!

The Sony NEX-5 vs the Ricoh GXR

I am currently shooting with the Ricoh GXR along with the 28 and 50mm modules and have been finding out the strengths and quirks of the unique GXR. My full detailed review will be coming this week but until then I thought it would be fun to take some comparison shots with the GXR and SONY NEX-5. On the GXR I mounted the 28mm module and the Sony was equipped with the 16mm, which is a pretty cool lens.

This is a image quality only comparison as body wise, these two cameras are very different. The Ricoh has buttons, dials and controls with a very rich user interface. The Sony has a couple of buttons but all in all, it’s a bit different shooting it over the GXR. The Sony is shorter but not that much smaller. For those who have not seen my Sony NEX-5 Review you can see that HERE. The little NEX is a versatile powerhouse with its tilt LCD, it’s superb HD Video capabilities, its ability to mount Leica glass with an adapter AND it’s amazing high ISO performance. The Ricoh has its solid feel and build, its superb user interface and the image quality is stellar as is the auto white balance and color. BUT… it is lacking a tilt screen and decent video capabilities.

The Ricoh is all about the lens/sensor modules though. With its ability to swap out lenses with the sensors it has a lot going for it but many potential buyers are a bit nervous to invest in such a camera. I’ll have all of my thoughts in my full review next week with tons of images, tests, and commentary.

For now, let us get to the comparison shots! I just went out today to enjoy the nice day and snapped some of the same scenes with each camera, using the same aperture and ISO on each. To see the full size out of camera images from each just click on the image itself below. You can then see the full size untouched file from each.

Many will say “Why do this comparison? The Sony lens is known for being soft in the corners”. This is true…but I love doing these type of things AND I get emails all the time asking for more comparisons! Also remember, the 16mm becomes a 24mm on the NEX and the Ricohs 18mm becomes a 28mm. Close enough. Besides, I was curious to see how the Ricoh would stand up to the Sony because I really enjoy the NEX-5.

I set each camera to Aperture Priority mode, the same ISO setting and I let the camera choose the exposure. The images are untouched with no Post Processing.

-

First image in each group will be from the Ricoh GXR and 18mm (28mm) A12 Module. The second will be with the Sony NEX-5 and 16mm (24mm equiv) Lens

ABOVE: RICOH GXR and 18mm (28mm equiv) at f/8. Click the image to see the full size file from RAW. Untouched, no adjustments.

-

ABOVE: SONY NEX-5 and 16mm (24mm equiv) at f/8. Click the image to see the full size from RAW. Untouched, no adjustments.

-

Ok, so here is another…1st is the Ricoh, 2nd is the Sony

ABOVE: Ricoh GXR and 18mm (28mm equiv) at f/5.6. Click the image to see the full size from RAW. Untouched.

-

ABOVE: Sony NEX-5 and 16mm (24mm equiv) at f/5.6. Click the image to see the full size from RAW. Untouched.

-

Here is an out of camera JPEG, untouched. AWB was used on both cameras. Seems like the Ricoh is warmer, the Sony is cooler.

ABOVE: The Ricoh GXR and 18mm (28mm Equiv) at f/5.6 – Out of camera JPEG – Click image for full size

-

ABOVE: The Sony NEX-5 and 16mm (24mm Equiv) at f/5.6 – Out of camera JPEG – Click image for full size

-

now, each camera set to f/2.8

ABOVE: The Ricoh GXR and 28 at f/2.8 – click image for full size file

-

ABOVE: Sony NEX-5 with 16mm at f/2.8 – Click image for full size file

-

ISO 3200 Low Light – STRAIGHT FROM CAMERA IMAGES – CLICK IMAGES FOR LARGER WITH 100% CROP

1st, the Ricoh and 28 at 2.8 – ISO 3200

-

Now, the NEX-5 – 16mm at f/2.8  - ISO 3200

The above comparison? RICOH wins all the way. I much prefer the richness of the color and even the noise and the way the camera exposed the shot. You can also see the superiority of the 28mm Lens on the GXR.

-

and one more…just for giggles. I could not get the NEX to focus on the glasses for some reason. Out of 5 shots, this was as close as it got BUT here you can see the richness of the tone and color of the GXR file. This one is NOT scientific at all. Different aperture, and focus was off on the NEX but I liked the color of the Ricoh shot here.

-


So what do you guys think? These were just plain and boring snapshots to test color, white balance, sharpness and detail between these two cameras. Like I stated earlier, these two cameras are quite different. The Sony can be had for $649 with the 16mm lens, and the GRX comes in at about $1100 with one Lens module.

In my full GXR review coming this week, there will be many many real world samples and also my opinion on what makes this camera strong and unique among the smaller camera market. For example? GXR or X1? Similar sensors but the Ricoh can be had with both the 28 and 50 for less than the X1. I’ll go over which I like better in my review in regards to the GXR, Sony NEX, Leica X1 and Micro 4/3! I’ll also have full size nigh time ISO 3200 image downloads and the flaws and weaknesses of this one of a kind camera. Stay tuned.

BTW, I bought my GXR from Amazon and it appears they only have two bodies left in stock and the 50 is also in stock through Adorama on Amazon. The 28 module is only available for Pre-Order.

A COUPLE OF PROCESSED SAMPLES FROM THE GXR

Here are three processed samples from the GXR and the 28…many more in the upcoming review! Click the images for LARGE size and better quality…when shooting RAW, you can get some nice, rich files from this camera…

ABOVE: The GRX with 28mm at 2.5

-

ABOVE: The GRX and 28 at f/8

-

ABOVE: The GRX and the 50 2.5 – 1/30s – ISO 1600 (missed focus on eye – instead focus was on eyelash)

-

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

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

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

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

Nov 272010
 
BRANDO~3

Memory Lane…

How many photos do you have on your hard drives? Back in the day when we all shot film we had boxes of negatives stuffed in closets and trunks. These days we have all of our precious memories on a device that can fail us at any moment and POOF! There goes our memories. Hopefully, most of you have your photos backed up to a second hard drive.

I remember 8 years ago I had a hard drive fail and silly me did not back them up. I lost thousands of images. Mainly the early digital ones like the ones I shot with the old Sony Mavica floppy disk digital. Who remembers this one? I do because I owned one. I saw it at Best Buy when digital cameras were first coming out and hitting the masses and Sony was leading the way! It is amazing how things have progressed in 12 years. From a slow as hell floppy drive that recorded 640X480 resolution to the the cameras of today that use SD cards and record crazy resolution that is starting to get to high IMO.

Here is a cool page for some history on these Sony cameras and a youtube video below. Check out how SLOW this camera operated…

The quality was awful but at the time it was cool to be able to take a picture and see it on your computer instantly. I have to admit, I prefer the SD cards of today :) My Mavica was short lived as it wasn’t long before the new models would arrive and eventually DSLR’s like the canon D30 which came in at $3500!

But getting back to the hard drive thing…it’s always smart to back up your photos and the price of external hard drives these days are so much cheaper than they used to be. Check out this affordable option…or this big mac daddy monster :) For under $90 you can buy a 1TB External HD and have a place  to backup your digital photos. After all, you are either storing precious life memories or important images for your work so backing up is very important.

Speaking of Memory Lane….some old photos with random cameras

I was going through some old photos a few days ago on my external hard drive. Something I have not done in quite a while. I then realized…DAMN! Im getting old! Seeing my son so small made me realize how fast time goes by and seeing that we all only have one life to live on this earth. Some of the old photos below were the ones that sparked the fondest memories wether it was where I was at, who I was with, or maybe it was just a good year :)

If you are like me and have thousands and thousands of photos on your hard drive of family, friends, and great memories then you should spend some time this weekend looking through them just like we used to do back when our photos were on paper. Remember those days? I do, and it was always fun to sit around the floor and just empty out my moms big trunk of photos and reminisce about the good old days, which at the time probably weren’t all that good but we always seem to look back at  the old days with a feeling of happiness. At least I do. Probably because I really have no complaints or regrets about my life. Each step I have taken has brought me to another place, another adventure and new experiences but I treasure my past and my memories.

All of the snapshots below were taken during the past 10 years with various cameras ranging from a Sony or Fuji point and shoot to a $3500 (at the time)  Nikon D2hs. Goes to show that for family memories, any camera will do really, and thats what most of these are. I do not care to look back at job photos but it is the family memories that we all want to remember on as we get older. It’s fun to remember specific days that were special, pets that we had that may now be gone, and even trips that were taken. A photo can literally take you back in time and it is the closest we are to a time machine at this time :)

I have over 15,000 photos and I have just started to scour the drives. Probably would take me a while to get through them all, but I will eventually :)

Where does the time go? As you already know It goes FAST, so do what I do…always bring a camera with you and record those memories that you will one day look back on with a smile. Live for today but never forget yesterday. This is part of the magic of photography. Happy shooting!

-

Some site updates….

Road Trips = Great photos and great fun.

Some updates…I will be taking a few road trips in the next two weeks to review some cameras and to get out of the dull Phoenix area which is not very photogenic unless you travel out a bit. I need some inspiration and am going to follow my own advice on how to get some :) I may even take a trek across the country..just me, my car and a bag full of camera gear. Head someplace I have never been before. Not only would it be fun, it would give me some time to do what I truly love to do…photography. I used to do these in the past more often like when I visited the Violin Annie gravesite, or the old abandoned Buildings in St. Louis MO and better yet, NYC for some street shooting with the Leica Noctilux! There was also the time I visited family I have not seen in 15-20 years in the hills of Kentucky with a Leica S2. So yea, traveling is fun, and can provide some great photo inspiration. I have been been thinking about taking an extended trip and meeting up with some of you guys to shoot with along the way. If so, details on that will be coming up soon.

Next week I will post my Ricoh GXR review. I have been shooting it with the 28 f/2.5 and 50 f/2.5 modules and find it quite interesting. It’s certainly more unique than the small mirror less cameras I have been writing about lately, but is it any better? I’ll let you know my thoughts next week but I see GREAT promise with this system. I guess it’s all in Ricohs court…but more on that in the review. I’m also looking forward to checking out the Panasonic GH2 but have not yet been able to get a hold of one. Soon I hope as it looks like the best Micro 4/3 to date.

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

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

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

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


Nov 252010
 

A Trip To Hong Kong With The Leica M3

By Allen Liu

First, before I tell you about my recent trip to Taiwan and Hong Kong, I want to thank Steve for giving me the opportunity to share my experiences and photos. For the past 12 months, aside from when I was on vacation, I visited Steve’s site pretty much every day and sometimes two or three times a day. Even my fiancée, who has absolutely no interest in photography, knows who Steve Huff is. Through Steve’s site, I learned about rangefinders, I discovered Leica, and ultimately, film cameras.

Twelve months ago, I had never shot a photo with a rangefinder; now I am a proud owner of the Leica M8, M6, and my favorite of them all, a M3. Today, the Leica M3 goes literally everywhere I go.  In almost every picture of me since the beginning of the year, you will see me wearing a messenger bag or sitting next to a messenger bag which has a Leica in it. Leica, especially the M3, has forced me to study photos, learn about the importance of light, and be able to determine the optimal aperture/shutter speed configuration to get exactly the image that I want.

The following statement is neither a joke nor exaggeration: I have more film in my refrigerator than food. The section normally reserved for fresh fruit is now completely filled with rolls upon rolls of 35mm film, black and white and color alike.



Earlier this month, my lovely fiancée and I took a trip to Taiwan and Hong Kong. The purpose of the trip was twofold and particularly special. Not only were we going to visit her family in Hong Kong, but I would also introduce her, for the first time, to my family in Taiwan. It was an incredible two weeks filled with unbelievable people and unbelievable food. It was only fitting that I wanted to take unbelievable pictures.

Max Marinucci has written an excellent article about taking a trip with his Leica M3 here at Steve’s site (you can read that article HERE), which I must have read no less than 10 times. Being inspired, I decided to take the Leica M3 with me and left all my other electronics (cameras, laptops, phones, etc.) behind. However, at the very last minute (right before taking off to the airport), I decided to take the M8 with me just in case my film was confiscated by the TSA or accidentally exposed by the x-ray machines. 

At the end of my trip, I came home with around 250 photos.  Less than 20 of them were shot with the M8.

Like Max had mentioned, airport security was a breeze. I simply put all my film in a large clear plastic bag and asked that it be inspected by hand. Three minutes later, everything was good to go. All pictures here are shot with Kodak BW400CN, Kodak Portra 160NC, and Kodak Portra 160VC.

If you have never been to Hong Kong, I highly recommend that you experience it. Note I use the word experience — Hong Kong is a city unlike any other, at least of the ones I have visited.

Hong Kong is for lovers, Hong Kong is for photographers, Hong Kong is for food-seekers. Hong Kong is for anyone with an open mind and a passion for discovering the idiosyncrasies of the world around them. Because of its relatively small geographical size and the unique history stemming from 99 years of British occupation, Hong Kong is a place where you can find old-school Chinese traditional markets sandwiched between western-influenced ultra-modern office buildings and glamorous luxury brand boutiques. You will see elderly people carrying today’s fresh local produce on their shoulders walking alongside businessmen with an expensive briefcase and Starbucks coffee in hand. Nevertheless, the ever-present juxtapositions somehow manage to mesh together so harmoniously that nothing seems out of place.



In the end, after looking at the photos, I am very happy about my decision to shoot predominantly with the M3. What am I going to do with the M8 now, you ask? I guess I will probably only use it when I want to try out a new lens and want immediate results. Leica M3 and this trip have taught me more than I could have imagined, and as a beginner in photography, I smile every time when I think about it.

Once again, I want to thank Steve for this great site and for more pictures of this trip, you can find them at http://badallen.smugmug.com/Travel/Taiwan-HK/.

allen

Nov 242010
 

Where to buy your camera gear online…and where NOT to..

By Steve Huff

It’s bright and early here in Phoenix, AZ and I am up with my morning coffee and staring at my Imac ready to write! Seeing that the Holiday season is upon us and Black Friday is right around the corner, I decided to write up a little post about where to buy your camera gear and where not to!  There are so many camera dealers out there and only a select few are trustworthy while there are TONS out there that want to rip you off in one way or another.

Here is my personal list of who is cool…and who is not so cool and who may be totally UNCOOL when it comes to buying camera gear online. Keep in mind, these are MY opinions from MY personal experiences. Yours may differ…



The Best Of The Best for Online Camera Purchase…IMO

-

B&H PhotoThe worlds largest camera/photo store – A+++ – Site Here

One online store that I have been buying from for 15 years is B&H Photo. B&H has NEVER EVER done me wrong even with tens of thousands of dollars spent and hundreds of orders. I have never had a late order, never had a defect or wrong item sent to me and never have been pushed to buy something else to get the deal. I have placed hundreds of orders with them and not once have I had an issue. That is not to say none of you haven’t, but from my experience B&H is the most respected online camera shop around.

B&H is tops in my book. Their web site is also very very good with real time stock status and great descriptions in an easy to navigate format.  I have bought from them for what seems like forever and even toured their store last year. Great people, great service. I liked them so much I joined their affiliate program to help pay for running this site so if you follow my links anywhere on this site that leads you to B&H Photo, AND you purchase something I get a teeny amount of commission, that hopefully over time builds up enough to cover my web hosting and expenses of running and updating this site. So if you make a purchase using my links, you have supported this site. I Thank you! B&H = stress free shopping.

The only negative I have ever had with them is when you are new or using a new credit card. For security they sometimes like to verify that you are indeed the person whose card you are using. But, is that a negative? No, that is making sure no one is using a fraudulent or stolen card. A+++

-

Amazon – The worlds largest online superstore! – A++ – Site Here

Amazon is tried and true. Just yesterday I purchased a Ricoh GXR plus 50mm module from them for Next Day Delivery. Already shipped and will be in my hands today. They did not sell the 28 module so I ordered that elsewhere (that turned into a disapointment..more below) and now regret that decision. Amazon is probably the largest online superstore of our time and they usually come through every single time for me. I have placed orders with them for everything from socks to gadgets and gizmos to books and music. Only ONE time did I have an issue, and it was not even a real issue. My package was delivered a day later than expected. Thats it.

Amazon is another store where if you follow a link from my site, I get a small commission and that helps me tremendously! So next time you buy ANYTHING from Amazon feel free to use my search bar on the right or you can even use this link and bookmark it for future use (cant bookmark the B&H Link and still support the site)! Can’t go wrong with Amazon and I stand by that as do most of you! A++

-

Dale Photo – Smaller Florida Shop that Specializes in Leica –  A+ – Site Here

I also enjoy Dale Photo. I have spoken with David Farkas a few times and ordered from their shop. I have bought a Leica 28 Summicron from them as well as a 50 Lux and a few other items. Never an issue, always friendly and always ships on time. You can check out their site here as they have loads of Leica gear with real time “in stock” status. I do not get commission from them but they are a site sponsor! Dale Photo says they are the worlds “premier” Leica dealer so who can argue with that? Not me. They are very well respected and loved by many. A+

-

Ken Hansen – Independent, legendary, and always has cool used gear as well. Leica specialist! A++ - E-Mail Him Here

Ken Hansen has been the most amazing guy when it comes to Leica products. I have bought so much Leica from Ken over the past two years it is insane. He always gets stock and usually has items the bigger shops do not have. I remember when no one had the new 50 Noctilux, he had like 10 of them! He used  to own a huge store in NYC but these days he works from his home selling Leica and he also has a pretty nice inventory of used gems.

If you want to see if he has what you are looking for, email him at [email protected] and tell him I sent  you! I do not make commission but Ken has helped me tremendously in the past. In the early days of this site, he would send me lenses to try out just so I could review them. Great guy and I owe him a ton, so feel free to contact him if you need anything!

-

The Online Shops That Are Outright Total Scams…

-

Even today there are still shops online that will charge your card, take your cash and never send you the merchandise OR call you to say you have to buy other gear to get that price that they advertised. I am in shock that these shops are STILL ALLOWED to do business online! There have been many articles on various blogs and websites explaining what shops to avoid when buying expensive camera gear.

Even worse, some of these shops have gotten such bad reviews they changed their names and head over to e-bay to do their business. One tip that I know ALL OF YOU have heard hundreds of times is “If it sounds  too good to be true, it probably is” and yes, this still holds true today. Don’t fall for  those magazine ads that promise you a Leica M9 for $3500, or even online ads that claim you can get a Leica M9 for $5000. All scams!

I wont be listing all of the online shops here that are total rip-offs because I do not know  them all, and personally, I never bought from any of them. I know they exists though as others have shouted their complaints online many times.

What to look out for..

Any store advertising really low prices. For example, if you see a Nikon D3x for $2999 you know it is a scam as this is a $6000 camera. No shop can sell for that low, and they do not. I have heard of buyers falling for this, buying and  then getting a call saying that the $2999 was for the body only. No box, no battery, no charger, no manual, no strap, nothing! Then they say the only way they can sell the item is if you buy everything as a package and that comes out to $6000! On top of that they may send you a grey market camera without a USA warranty (if buying in the USA).

Just be on the lookout and if any of these shops are in Brooklyn, BEWARE! It seems they all congregate there for some reason. B&H Photo is in Manhattan and they are A+++ in my book. Hmmmm. Here is a list of cool links to other sites that talk about camera crooks online…some of them are quite interesting!

Brooklyn Camera Store Threatens an Activists Life!

Brooklyn Camera Stores – THE SCAM STOPS HERE!

Brooklyn Camera Store Generates Complaints Worldwide!

Problems with Online Camera Stores

Bait & Switch

So as you can see, Brooklyn camera shops seem to have the crappiest reviews and are the ones to really watch out for but that doesnt mean the scammers are ONLY in Brookly, nor does it mean there are not legit shops IN brooklyn. Just be smart..stick with the big boys like B&H and Amazon and you will never be ripped off. At least I haven’t. There are other shops that have stellar reps, but I have no experience with them. Adorama is one that is ranked just as highly as B&H though I find they do not have as much stock as B&H at times. I used to shop at onecall but have not in many many years. So keep those eyes peeled and be smart when shopping this holiday season!

Happy Holidays….I love the Holidays :)

Nov 232010
 

The Timbuk 2 Snoop Camera Bag, and other goodies for the Outdoor Photographer

By Amy Jurries

Amy Jurries is the founder and editor of The GearCaster, a blog dedicated to profiling emerging companies and technologies in the outdoor industry.

The Timbuk2 Snoop Camera Bag

If you are an outdoor photographer, your requirements for a good camera bag are very different from the mainstream. Details such as weather proofing, no Velcro openings, ample gear storage and all day comfort become very important. Many new products and even entire new companies are popping up to cater to the specific camera bag needs of the outdoor photographer.

The new Snoop from Timbuk2 is a camera bag disguised as a messenger. The messenger bag comes with a fully padded, completely modular interior that will house your lenses, camera body and batteries.

An interior padded case insert features Velcro secured walls that can be moved around to house whatever camera body and accessories you have with you for the day. If you want to separate your camera equipment from the messenger bag, simply lift out the entire padded case and take it with you.

Especially handy for wildlife photographers or anyone who needs to fly under the radar, the Snoop comes with removable Velcro silencers so you can get in and out of your bag without making a sound.

The Snoop affords you all the additional benefits of a normal Timbuk2 messenger bag with the internal stash pocket for storing your papers or laptop while you are on a shoot. The Napoleon pocket enables you to quickly get at your gear in the front zipper pockets without have to open up your entire bag. Adjustable straps at the bottom of the bag let you carry a tripod along with you.

Timbuk2’s memory-adjust True Fit cam buckle means you don’t have to constantly adjust your strap length to get the bag on and off over your head. Simply unclick the buckle to throw the bag over your shoulder, and then click the buckle back in place for the perfect strap fit.

The new Timbuk2 Snoop camera bag retails for $130. You can buy the Snoop at Amazon.

(From Steve: I have a Timnuk2 Snoop Here in Red and Grey and will be having a contest in the next day or two so I can give this great bag away..stay tuned!)

More goodies for the Outdoor Shooter…

Utah company Clik Elite specializes in making performance packs for outdoor adventure photographers. The company’s new Signature Series for fall/winter marries an uncompromising camera case with a variety of high performance pack designs built for any outdoor activity.

The Clik Elite Contrejour 40 is a full-featured backcountry ski and climbing pack with internal aluminum frame for added support. The padded, internal Cradle Zone camera bay is accessible through the back panel or via a side entry portal for quick swing around access to your camera.

Similar to the Snoop, modular Cradle Lens Dividers help you organize your camera body and lenses, while a mesh accessory pouch safely stores all of your cords, data cards and other small items. A top pocket organizer is perfect for housing extra data cards, batteries, hard drives or other quick access items.

The Contrejour is roomy enough to not only store all your camera equipment but also all of your extra winter layers, food, shovel, axe and probe in a separate compartment. Reinforced straps hold your skis diagonally or snowboard and snowshoes vertically across the pack.

Attachment points on the shoulder strap and waist belt can hold Clik Elite’s camera chest pack or other accessories such as a filter organizer or lens pouches. A mesh side pocket and side compression straps hold your tripod or light stand securely in place.

The Clik Elite Contrejour comes in 35L or 40L sizes for $339. You can buy this bag at Amazon.

Outdoor Solutions…

If you don’t want to haul the extra weight of a full tripod with you while out in the wilderness, there are a few solutions to turn your everyday trekking poles into a perfect makeshift tripod.

Leki makes the LEKI Sierra SAS (Soft Anti-Shock) Trekking Pole ($79.95) that features a built in universal screw camera mount beneath the wooden handle knob. Set to release this spring, Leki has also developed the Aergon Photo Adaptor accessory, which transforms any Leki Aergon trekking pole handle into a universal camera mount.

The StickPic, an even simpler universal screw camera mount accessory, fits on the tip of your trekking pole for self-portrait, point of view or extended reach photos. Weighing just 1/3 of an ounce and the size of the nickel, the StickPick comes in three different versions to fit the tip of any trekking pole brand.



Make sure you visit Amy’s blog at THEGEARCASTER.COM to read more about outdoor gear!

Nov 222010
 

A friend of mine from France, Helene Pambrun started a new blog recently called GIVE ME PASSION and when she told me about it I immediately thought “WOW! what a great idea” See, her blog is all about PASSION. Passion in everyday life. In love. In your work. Whatever one is passionate about. We as individuals each have different things that tug at our heart. We each have our “thing” that we love deeply and the things that we are truly passionate about. Helene has taken this and made a blog out of it where she interviews people in all walks of life about their passion. I applaud her. Her blog is in French but if you use Google Chrome for your web browser you can translate to English with a click of the mouse.

Passion

Passion is something I have loads of and even through the rough and rocky days I sometimes come across I always try to remember the things in life I love. My #1 passion is the love for my family and freinds and right next  to that is photography. With my passion for it so strong it doesn’t even matter how good I am at it. I may not be the best photographer in the world but it doesn’t matter because I have a true passion for it. It makes me happy. It satisfies me. I love it. I have a passion for cameras, lenses, and taking pictures of just about anything. Taking an ordinary scene and making it look interesting by use of a certain lens or angle. It is that passion for photography and Leica cameras that got me to start this blog almost 2 years ago and now this blog is also one of my passions.

Everyone walking on this earth should be passionate about something and I think that deep down we all are. Some have a passion for collector cars, some love boating, some are into golf, some love sports or the arts. If you have a passion in life, a passion to live life to the fullest than your life can’t possibly be boring. The next time you hit a rough patch in life get out and do something you are passionate about and it will be sure to lift your spirits. What IS your passion?

Passion can also motivate us. I use the passion of all of you reading this on a daily basis for the “Daily Inspiration” and sometimes those pics inspire us all to get out there and shoot or try new things with our photography.

Helene sent me some questions to answer for her blog so I will be writing about my passions for her site :) I know the readers of this website are all crazy passionate about cameras and photography and this is what I want to keep going with. This is not just another “review” site as it is run by someone (me) who is truly passionate,  and I love what I am doing. I did not start this site for money or fame, just to share my passion with the world. Be sure to check out GIVE ME PASSION and keep your passion alive in whatever it is you do or love!

Steve

Nov 222010
 

My Favorite Cameras of 2010, Digital and Film

By Steve Huff

It’s been a little slow here the last week or so as I am awaiting for the new cameras to come out and be delivered to me for review. Reviews for the Panasonic GH2, Pentax K5 and possibly the Ricoh GXR are on the way soon but today I decided to post my first ever “Best of” camera buyers guide for 2010. These are MY favorite cameras that came out in 2010. Later in the week I will write about my favorite accessories and software from last year.

Today I bring you MY PERSONAL best of the best in regards to my overall favorite camera, overall best bang for the buck and even my favorite film camera of 2010. I always get e-mails asking “What Camera Should I Buy” and while I can not tell you what is best for YOU and your situation, I can tell you what I really liked and enjoyed during the last year of the digital camera releases.

Also, you can be assured that every item listed here was used extensively by me and gets my highest recommendation. Also, these are MY opinions. You may agree or disagree but these are MY picks! With that said, let’s get on to the list!

MY FAVORITE OVERALL DIGITAL CAMERA OF 2010 – NO PRICE LIMIT CATEGORY!

The Leica M9 – $6995.00

The Leica M9. My pick for the overall BEST digital camera of 2010. True, this was released on 09/09/09 but it was not readily available until 2010 so most shooters were not able to even see one until this time. I wrote a huge review of the M9 that you can see HERE so I will not re-hash all of the amazing things I love about  this camera. Basically, as much as I like the Leica M8, the M9 took it to another level and gave us a true digital M with a full frame 18MP sensor that provided amazing quality when paired up with some decent Leica or Zeiss lenses.

You can also see my list of my favorite Leica lenses for the M9 HERE because not all lenses will provide you with the magic quality that this camera is capable of. No AA filter, no need for IR/UV filters, and superb color and detail, the M9 may not be as versatile as a NIkon D3x but it is much smaller, much quieter and feels like a real old fashioned camera in your hand. Manual focus, manual control. The M9 is a true photographic tool and with lenses like the 50 Summilux ASPH and Noctilux ASPH, there is no digital camera that can give you the unique quality that this one can. A Leica image can and does stand out when shot with the any film M or the M9. If you want the ULTIMATE digital camera and want to learn photography, the M9 is a super tool. BUT, it’s not for those with light wallets! The M9 comes in at $6,995 for the body only. You always pay a premium for the Leica red dot but the camera is a work of art. Not perfect, but this could be my last digital ever as it leaves me wanting for nothing more.

ABOVE: The M9 with the cheaper 35 Summarit in an old Kentucky town 2010.

ABOVE: Even at ISO 2500 the M9 can give you usable results.

ABOVE: Landscape is a dream with the M9. Id take an M9 over ANY other 35mm digital for this ANY DAY.

ABOVE: The M9 and 35 Summilux ASPH. A killer street combo.

So where should you buy an M9? I have a list of dealers that you can trust as I have bought from them all and have been buying cameras for over 15 years. Stick with any of the dealers below and you will never have to worry about being scammed or ripped off.

You can buy the Leica M9 from B&H Photo (IN STOCK) HERE, Dale Photo HERE, Amazon HERE
or Ken Hansen via EMAIL


MY FAVORITE OVERALL BANG FOR THE BUCK DSLR OF 2010 – BANG FOR THE BUCK CATEGORY

The Sony A33 and A55 – $749 – $849

I am not saying that the Sony A33 is the best DSLR sold in 2010 but I am saying that out of the DSLR’s released in 2010 that I SHOT WITH the A33 proved to be a really good camera for the money. For $749 you get a slightly plasticky feeling DSLR but it’s performance is on par with cameras costing upwards of $1400. It’s translucent mirror technology provides blazing fast AF speed for photos or video. Speaking of video, this camera puts out amazing full HD video. I wrote a full review of this camera HERE with tons of test shots and a video sample. The A33 is a camera that will give you great color, superb low light capabilities and the ability to use some fine Zeiss glass as well. If I were in the market for a DSLR under $1000 the Sony A33 or A55 would be my pick.

I WOULD BUY THE Sony A33 HERE from B&H Photo. For $100 more you get the Sony A55 which adds GPS and more MegaPixels.



MY FAVORITE SEMI-COMPACT DIGITAL CAMERA OF 2010 – TIE

The Sony NEX-5 and Olympus E-P2

1st: THE OLYMPUS E-P2

There are SO MANY cameras in this category and most of them are really really good but at the end of the day TWO stood out for their versatility, quality and size. The Olympus E-P2 and Sony NEX-5.

I had a tough time deciding between these two cameras. On one hand you have the Olympus E-P2 (see my full review HERE) with its vintage styling and rangefinder-ish feel. The E-P2 is a fantastic camera though it is limited by it’s higher ISO capabilities due to it’s small micro 4/3 sensor. BUT, if you want a solid feeling small slim camera with great controls and great video capability then the E-P2 deserves a look. I love it for its styling, feel, control and price. You can pick up an E-P2 with 17mm lens these days for UNDER $700. That is a great price for a camera like this as I have achieved beautiful results with my E-P2. Attach the Olympus 17mm or the Panasonic 20 1.7 to this camera and you have a thin, small and kick ass combo for just about any situation. You can also mount many different lenses to your E-P2. For example, have a Leica lens? Just buy an adapter and mount it to your E-p2 and you have a sweet little manual focus setup with astounding qualities. The Sensor size is smaller than most other cameras but the quality is there if you have good light.

2nd: THE SONY NEX-5

If you read this site you know I love my Leicas and also lately have been showing the love to the Sony NEX-5. What is it about this TINY camera with it’s not so good kit lenses that has me falling head over heels for it? I will tell you right now! It’s SIZE, QUALITY and VERSATILITY is off the charts.  Like the E-P2 and Micro 4/3 mount cameras the NEX-5 can mount almost any lens with the right adapter. I have shot it with Leica glass with wonderful results. What I love about the NEX-5 is its swivel LCD, it’s tiny size, its metal construction and great feel. I love that you can mount almost any lens to it and that the high ISO quality is so good. It also has blazing fast AF and great color. The kit lenses are not the best in the world but they can give you decent results at times. They are not AWFUL but they are not sharp from corner to corner.

The NEX-5 has one flaw though and that is it’s menu system that I discussed in my full review HERE. There really is a lack of manual control and feel but that is just the nature of the camera and how it is designed. I can say though that once you get used to it then it is not a big deal and it becomes second nature. Also, the latest firmware update for the NEX-5 added the ability to customize the rear buttons to your liking. Overall the Sony NEX-5 has massive bang for the buck qualities. HD video, High Resolution APS-C sensor, Sweep Panorama, Low light modes and a take anywhere size. Bravo to Sony for the NEX system!

You can buy the Olympus E-P2 at B&H Photo HERE or Amazon HERE (amazon has a killer UNDER $640 price WITH LENS!)

The NEX-5 is available with the 16mmm lens HERE or the 18-55 HERE



MY FAVORITE COMPACT CAMERA OF 2010

The Leica D-Lux 5 and/or Panasonic LX-5

For me, these are the two hottest compact cameras on the market right now. They are basically the SAME camera, both are made by Panasonic but the Leica model has different styling, different firmware and comes with better software and a better warranty. BUT, the Panasonic can be had for under $420 at B&H Photo where the D-Lux 5 is $799, so almost double the price. Whichever you choose, the Leica or the Panasonic, these cameras will give you some of the best image quality in a small sensor compact. These cant really compete with a big DSLR in high ISO or low light shooting but these “take anywhere” cameras will always be with you and will always be ready to give you superb images. These cameras offer loads of features like HD video, multiple aspect ratios, a Leica branded f/2 lens, super fast AF and a gorgeous feeling body. I loved the older D-Lux 4 and the new D-Lux 5 improves upon the 4 in a few ways. You can read my full review of the Leica D-Lux 5 HERE. It’s the most read D-Lux 5 review on the internet!

You can buy the Leica D-Lux 5 at B&H Photo HERE

You can buy the Panasonic LX-5 at B&H Photo in BLACK or WHITE


MY FAVORITE NEW FILM CAMERA RELEASED IN 2010

The Fuji GF 670 Medium Format Rangefinder

Yes, even in 2010 a new FILM camera was released, and it was a good one. I love the Fuji GF670 for a few reasons. One is due to the fact that it is a medium format rangefinder. Think of it as a Leica M on steroids (though not nearly as well made). The GF670 is a fold out camera and when you fold in the lens it is fairly compact. You can read my full review of the camera HERE if you want the details but if you want to get into film, this is a great camera to choose if you want a rangefinder that shoots those big, fat juicy medium format negs. This camera is not cheap coming in at $1600 or so new. Many will argue that you can buy older versions for less, and you can…BUT if you want a new one with warranty it doesn’t get much better than this. Shooting film can be a hugely rewarding experience and the negatives this camera pumps out are pretty amazing. Big, fat, and full of color and life.

You can buy the Fuji GF 670 at B&H Photo HERE who usually has them IN STOCK!


CAMERAS THAT I HAVE NOT YET REVIEWED THAT LOOK PROMISING

The Pentax K5

The Pentax K7 was an awesome little DSLR with a pro build, weather sealing, awesome image quality, HD video and the size was very small. The new K5 promises much more with more resolution, much better high ISO performance and a slew of other improvements. Look for my review soon!!  I loved the K7 but it had sub par high ISO when compared to the new cameras of today. The K5 should kick some serious behind so hopefully I will not be disappointed!

The Ricoh GXR

This camera has been calling my name for months and months. A buddy of mine told me about it months ago and he has been sending me some incredible images for a while now. I originally dismissed this camera thinking it was a gimmick but then I realized that those who own one LOVE IT. I even know of a couple guys that sold their Leica M9 and made the GXR their main camera, so it has to be pretty good.  Ricoh are releasing new lens modules and the latest 28 2.5 looks REALLY sweet so I have one on the way here real soon and I will be giving it a thorough review. Check back every day!


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

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

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

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

Nov 212010
 

Hi Steve,

Love your blog, and have been an avid reader (and sometime commenter) for a while now. I thought I’d send you a theme submission for “Daily Inspiration”, and in doing so I’ve taken the liberty to break your rules (sorry) just a little, and submit four photos. I thought I’d submit photos made with four very different rigs, each of which I shoot with quite a bit. I think of it as “horses for courses”. I hope you’ll consider running this little series on your blog.

Here’s a link to my flickr account, as well: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mathomas/

Thanks!

Horses for Courses

The M8. When I found that used ones were going for “reasonable” prices I decided to jump. Though I’ve turned to film quite a bit lately (thanks to you and other enthusiast sites), I still shoot my M8 quite a bit, and sometimes am just amazed by the quality of the images. That, combined with the convenience and malleability of digital images, keeps me shooting digital.

M8 + Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/1.5

B&W conversion in Nik Silver Efex.

I loved my M8 so much, and did so many B&W conversions, I decided to get a film M and shoot “real” B&W again (it had probably been 20 years).  I found a beautiful M2 at my local camera shop and bought it as a birthday present to myself. I find the M2 with a fast lens makes a great low-light setup (esp compared with the M8!).  Here, I was testing my beloved Sonnar, which had just taken a bad knock against a piece of furniture.  It obviously still took good photos but had a pretty bad rattle, so I sent it in for service.
Leica M2 +  Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/1.5
Tri-X @ 1250, developed in Diafine
Scanned with Plustek 7300

Shooting 35mm film again led to a curiosity about medium format and the beautiful detail and smooth tones you can get from the larger negative. So, after doing a lot of research I bought a used Fuji on eBay. I have loved shooting this camera, which is known as the “Texas Leica”. Though it doesn’t have anywhere near the quality feel of the Leicas, the quality of the images is just amazing, and the camera is very easy to handle for a medium format rig.

Fuji GW690III, fixed Fujinon 90mm f/3.5

Ilford Delta 400, lab dev/scan

“The best camera is the one you have with you”. I’ve found that to be pretty true, and if the camera is a “Hipstamatic” (iPhone/iPod Touch app), then all the better. I’ve found the random nature of the output of this “camera” to be really inspiring and fun. Plus, I always have it.

iPod Touch + Hipstamatic

(John S lens and Ina ’69 film)

Nov 192010
 

Another Leica M9 Wedding Shooter

By Roy Strutt – Website – www.strutt.org

I am a part time wedding and portrait photographer – My day job is running Symon Dacon (Digital Signage). At the weekends I enjoy weddings as a part time occupation and very much enjoy collecting and using Leica cameras I have a Leica IIIf , a Leica M5 , a Leica Digilux 2 and a Leica M9. I have shot many weddings over the last 5 years using mainly a Canon 5D MKII with a 24 -70 f2.8L , 15mm f2.8 , 35mm f2L and a 135mm f2L.

Last year I took the plunge and invested in a Leica M9 and have experimented with some of the more affordable lenses and for the moment I am very happy with the following:

Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8

Summicron 35mm f2  pre asph

Summicron 50mm f2

Voigtlander 75mm f2.5

Elmarit 90mm f2.8  pre asph

I have often followed your articles and reviews for buying choices and these have normally been funded by a reciprocal sale of unwanted equipment. On the occasion of Zoe and Gareth’s wedding I asked a local wedding photographer (Sandra Wignall) if I could be her second photographer and just focus on using Leica. The wedding was in the Essex town of Colchester (40 miles from London) on a typical English autumnal day  but with sunny spells. The wedding was a lighting challenge as I did not want to use flash at all and wanted to rely on natural light and high ISO (similar style to Canon 5D shooting).

The lighting in the church (modern and brand new) was mixed tungsten and sodium with a little natural light – it was very difficult to work with and I also realised that my image count was going to be very different from a Canon wedding and in fact struggled to shoot more than 150 images (versus 750 for a Canon wedding).

For  this wedding I only used the Leica M9 but did a few supporting images for Sandra during a rushed post wedding family session with the Canon 5D. I very much enjoyed walking around with a small bag of lenses and the M9 and was often ignored (which suited me) as the guests concentrated on the Sandra as the main photographer.

Having now completed my two trial runs I would happily do a Leica wedding as the main photographer and have the Digilux 2 in full use alongside the M9. My next Leica wedding was a similar theme but I used the M9 and the Digilux 2 only (I was amazed at some of the images from the Digilux 2).

I only used the Zeiss 25mm and the Voigtlander 75mm for Zoe and Gareth – For Jan and John I used the Summicron 35mm and the Elmarit 90mm on the M9. I used the M9 with  RAW main files and black and white jpeg at generally 800 ISO – I processed using Lightroom 3 and I experimented with the DXO Labs Optics Pro for the RAW to black and white conversion (I use DXO for the Canon shooting) – I am still experimenting with post processing on the M9 and I am always keen to hear new techniques. On reflection I prefer the Leica lenses but the Zeiss 25mm is amazing and a keeper.

Overall it was a steep learning curve using a Leica Rangefinder for a wedding but it had a certain quality and style which I would like to develop for next year’s wedding shoots.

Roy Strutt

© 2009-2014 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved
21