Jan 132011
 

Press Release

Invitation to submit entries for the ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Award’ photographic competition

Solms, Germany (January 12, 2011) – Leica Camera AG invites professional photographers to submit entries to the ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Award,’ an international photography competition. Photographers wishing to take part may submit their entries online from January 15, 2011 to March 1, 2011 at www.leica-oskar-barnack-preis.de. This year, the value of the competition prizes has significantly increased, with the award winner receiving their own piece of Leica history.

For the first time, the winner of the ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Award’ will receive a Leica M9 camera and a lens worth 9,500 euros (approximately $12,300) in addition to a cash prize of 5,000 euros (approximately $6,500). For the ‘Newcomer Award,’ open to all (aspiring) professional photographers aged 25 and under, the award has also been increased. The winner will receive a Leica M9 camera and a lens.

Competition entry conditions: An international jury awards the ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Award’ / ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award’ to photographers whose unerring powers of observation capture and express the relationship between humans and the environment in graphic form in a sequence of up to 12 images. Entry submissions must be a self-contained series of images in which the photographer perceives and documents the interaction between humans and the environment with acute vision and contemporary visual style – creative, unobtrusive and groundbreaking.

The competition is a memorial to Oskar Barnack (1879–1936), the inventor of the Leica. From 1914 on, he increasingly used the prototype camera he developed, today known as the Ur-Leica, for photography. The history of photojournalism is closely tied to his invention, as, beginning in 1925, the compact and easily carried Leica cameras were instrumental in enabling entirely new and expressive forms of photography.

The terms and conditions of entry can be downloaded at www.leica-oskar-barnack-preis.de.

Jan 132011
 

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POLL!

OK, quick poll. SLR Magic is thinking about releasing a Leica M mount 90 f/2 lens in the $250 range. They have made a prototype and are wondering if it is something they should release. I’m just not sure how popular the 90mm focal length is these days. So the question is…if there was a 90mm f/2 Leica M mount lens available with decent build and a little bit smaller than the 90 Summicron, AND it had very good quality…would you buy one for $250 or less?

The company is SLR Magic, the same guys that brought us the Toy lens for micro 4/3 and the 35 1.7 for NEX mount. The 90 would be an all new lens, not a toy lens. Here is the sample I was sent from their prototype which they say is 70% of the final quality.

So, what do you think?

Jan 122011
 

Using Facebook to promote your business? Be careful!

One reason I just started a new facebook “fan” page for this website is because facebook has been disabling profiles of some photographers I know (as well as web sites) who have been using their personal facebook profiles as a means to promote their web site. I guess this is a “no-no” in facebook land and while it has taken me 1 1/2 years to get to over 2100 “friends” on facebook I could lose all of that at any moment because I do post links to this site from facebook.

If any of you reading this use a personal facebook page to promote your web site or photo business then be careful! Here are the rules direct from FB:

“Per our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, Facebook profiles must represent an individual. Users aren’t permitted to maintain an account under the name of their organization, or use personal accounts to advertise or promote themselves professionally. If your profile was listed under a non-individual name, or was used primarily for professional promotion, this is probably why it was removed.”

I was 100% un-aware of this policy because let’s face it..who reads all of the legal mumbo jumbo before signing up for a facebook account? Just wanted to pass this along and to let everyone know that if you are following me on facebook then PLEASE head over to my new fan page for this site so I do not lose you :) All you have to do is hit the “like” button when you get to the page. I will eventually stop posting web site updates to my personal facebook page and will only use the fan page so I can be sure to follow the rules of facebook :)

Thanks!

Steve

Jan 122011
 

Using the Leica M9 For Senior Portrait Photography

By Chris Routt

High School Senior Photography is important in the Midwest. Pictures are shot before or during their senior year of high school. I have been shooting professionally for 11 years. I started with Hasselblad 500s in the late 90s with film backs and eventually transitioned to shooting Phase One Digital Backs on the Hasselblads in the early 00s. The challenge with the early Phase One Backs is that they had to be tethered to a computer. Over the years obviously technology with cameras has come a long way. My primary camera has been the Nikon D3 for the past few years. The D3 is a camera that produces excellent files.

Aside from being a professional photographer, I am a high school history teacher. With the price of Leicas you need two careers. I have always been enamored with German history and technology. I started researching Leica cameras a few years ago. I discovered some artists who had shot with Leica during their career: Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, and even Annie Leibovitz. Their images seemed to have a different feel and quality to them. While my style does not consciously lend itself to any of my images, they have been influential.

I enjoyed shooting with the Zeiss glass from my Hasselblad days. The lenses I had were made in West Germany. I missed the feel and build quality of the Zeiss lenses. As strange as is may seem I missed manual focus lenses. I was anxious to see if manual focus would work for me in the camera room as it did in the late 90s. I decided to invest into the Leica M system. My first purchase was a Leica M6 that I actually bought from Steve Huff. Ironically my first lens was the Zeiss 50mm F2. I am currently testing the new Kodak Portra 400 film with the M6. The grain is amazing on this film. It looks like 160 speed film grains.

After looking at the M8s that were available on the market I was reluctant to purchase due its lack of a full-frame sensor. Once the Leica M9s became more available in 2010 I decided to give it a shot. The build quality is top notch. Two of the main issues I have had with the camera are the lack of a grip (which can be remedied with accessories) and the terrible LCD. Aside from the horrendous colors mine seems to scratch easily.

Coming from the D3, shooting with the Leica is a transition, especially when it comes to speed. During a typical senior session, approximately 2 hours, I shoot roughly 300 images. With the Leica M9, I shoot less than 100 images in 2 hours. I find myself slowing down and thinking more about what I am doing. As most readers here will attest there is something different and unique about shooting with rangefinder cameras. It creates a unique experience for both the photographer and client. In future versions of the M I would love to see some sort of focus confirmation (not sure if this is possible) and obviously an LCD that warrants the price of the camera. Another benefit with the M9 is the weight factor between it and the D3 and its big lenses. I can tell a difference, physically, after shooting all day with the D3 as compared to the M9. The size and weight of the M9 is a benefit.

When looking at lenses for the M9 I looked at two of Leica’s better lenses, the 90mm Summicron F2 and the 50mm Summilux 1.4. After reading multiple reviews these lenses seemed to deliver what I would need. The 50mm would provide the natural eye’s view while the 90mm would be the portrait lens I would need. I will spare you the technical data on both lenses. There is plenty of information available. Both these lenses are awesome. From a portrait perspective I prefer the 90mm, however I prefer shooting with the 50mm. The glass is sharp, produces great bokeh, and is a great combination with the M9 files.

I shoot in raw and process the files in Capture One. I have noticed a movement toward Lightroom. I have never been a fan of Adobe’s raw engines, in either Lightroom or Photoshop. I think Capture One provides the best color on the market, especially with Nikon files. Even when I shoot the D3 I primarily shoot in manual mode setting the shutter and aperture manually. I even use a Minolta light meter. Capture One gives you two stop of exposure either way but I would encourage you to nail the exposure in the camera. To take advantage of Capture One you need to shoot a grey card. This is essential. One of the challenges I have seen with the M9 is having to adjust the color in Capture One. This seems to be of debate amongst different photographers. I sometimes have to lessen the yellows and oranges and boost the blues in Capture One.

I am still getting used to the Leica system. I am hooked! I love the glass, the build quality, and the detailed files that come out of the M9. At www.mrfoto.com you can check out my senior work.

Jan 112011
 

Join me or “Like” me on my new facebook fan page for this website!

Hello to all! Hope everyone is having a great week. Here in Phx the weather is warming up and heading back  to the 70’s so it looks like our one week winter is just about over!

Just wanted to let everyone know who is a friend of mine on facebook that I just started a new facebook “fan” page because facebook only allows so many “freinds” on a personal page and I would hate to eventually hit that wall.

So to all of you who are already connected with me via facebook, feel free to “like” my new facebook page by visiting it HERE and clicking on “like”. This way you will get all of my camera updates as they happen!

The M9 Give Away Contest Updates

Also, the M9 contest entries are coming in every day now. I am up to 56 official entries so far and I am guessing that most will come in during the last week. Remember, you only have until Feb 05th to submit your entries! ANYONE can win, just get out there and shoot! Good luck to all :)

For those who have been having issues registering at picortwo.com to follow a photographer (you do not register to be a photographer, just follow) I was told that as of today it should be 100% working. If for some reason it is not, you can click HERE and  register by following Seal. Just enter your email address and click on FOLLOW.

This site has had 880 registrations since the contest started so it is possible that we will see up to 800 contest entries! We shall see! For those who are just finding out about this Leica M9 Give Away contest, click here for the details!

Upcoming Reviews

Lately I have been messing with the Panasonic LX5. I reviewed the Leica D-Lux 5 and will most likely update that review with some LX-5 thoughts by the end of the week. The LX-5 is basically a D-Lux 5 with a different outer shell and slightly different color out of the camera. The LX-5 is $399 and the D-Lux 5 is $799. There are differences though and I’ll go over those with the D-Lux 5 review update.

I also plan on reviewing the Panasonic GH2 very soon as well as the Leica 50 and 90 Summarit lenses. Stay tuned for that. There are also some new guest articles on the way!

The Timbuk 2 Bag Contest – VOTE!

VOTE! The Timbuk 2 bag contest is coming to a close with a winner picked SATURDAY so if you did not yet vote, be sure and VOTE NOW for your favorite! #1 and #4 are virtually tied so let’s pick a winner!

Jan 102011
 

The Pentax K5 Real World Use Review

By Steve Huff

** ATTENTION ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS! – Don’t forget to enter the Leica M9 giveaway that is going on NOW! – Details HERE **

So here it is 2011 and I have been shooting with the lovely Pentax K5 for a few weeks now. I have not been able to get out every day with it but on the days I have been able to, I have really enjoyed shooting this camera. The Pentax K5 is essentially an upgrade to the Pentax K7 which I ABSOLUTELY LOVED. You can see my full review of the K7 HERE in case you missed it. That K7 gave me plenty of superb photos when I shot it with the Kit Zoom AND a couple of Pentax Limited prime lenses.

My K7 review also sparked lots of comments and interest. Even the president of Pentax, Ned Bunnel, posted about it on his personal blog. If you google “Pentax K7 Review” my review comes up as the #1 result. I have received lots of e-mails about that review and many thanks from those who bought one due to the info in that review.

When the K5 was announced it didn’t take long for the e-mails to start pouring in asking me when I was going to post a review for it! The pressure was on so I knew I had to try it out but seeing that I almost bought a K7 for myself, I was a bit scared to review the K5! Why? Because I really can’t afford another camera after my Ricoh GXR purchase! Anyway, I decided I HAD TO review it, and I am glad  I did because this is one of the finest (if not THE finest) APS-C sensor DSLR’s I have shot with to date!

This time around, B&H Photo sent me the K5 to try out along with the 43 1.8 limited lens. This lens, while not as tasty as the 77 limited I shot with last time is still a GREAT lens. With a fast 1.8 aperture, it will give you great performance in low light as well as allow you to get a shallow depth of field. Most of you know I love shooting like this because I love the looks I get with a fast prime lens :)

“Bella” – Pentax K5 with 43 Limited at 1.9 – Click image for larger and better version!

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“Evening Bokeh Drive” – The Pentax K5 in one of the cool cross process modes – JPEG – 43 limited at 1.9 – ISO 200

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When I first opened the Pentax K5 two things struck me. First, I was like “WHOA” this thing is huge!

BUT IT IS NOT! It actually is VERY small for a DSLR but because I was so used to shooting cameras like the Sony NEX-5, Olympus E-P2 and Ricoh GXR over the past 3 months, I was spoiled by those small cameras. After handling it for a few minutes I realized just how small this camera is for a DSLR and I was instantly taken back to my days with the K7. Yea, this is a SOLID, SMALL and amazingly well made DSLR. It makes the Sony A33 and A55 feel like toys. It really does.

As for the look, feel, and operation, there is not much more I can say that I already didnt say in the K7 review. Yea, the K5 keeps the awesome K7 features but adds some like having a better sensor with higher resolution (16.3 vs 14.6), better high ISO capability (up to 51,200 ISO) and performance, 1080P HD video (better video than K7), 7 FPS vs 5FPS on the K7, faster AF speed, better HDR recording, and it still has the 77 weather seals on the body alone. This is ONE HELL of a DSLR on paper, no doubt. Man, I loved the K7 so it should be a no brainer that I also love the K5 right? THAT WOULD BE A BIG YES!

Pentax K5 with the 43 Limited lens at F4, ISO 100

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The Pentax K5 with the 43 Limited at f/5

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The Features Of The Pentax K5

I already mentioned some of the upgrades of the K5 over the K7 but let’s see ALL of the features of this great camera:

• High resolution 16.3 megapixel CMOS sensor w integrated AD conversion circuitry

• High sensitivity 80-51200 ISO range with improved noise performance

• Speedy 7 FPS captures fast action shots

• Highly responsive and accurate 11 point SAFOX IX+ autofocus system with dedicated AF assist lamp and light wavelength sensor

• Widescreen 1080p HD video at 25 FPS, with sound via built-in or external 3.5mm stereo microphone jack

• Large 3″ LCD with 921,000 dots of resolution

• Fully weather sealed and coldproof design

• Durable magnesium alloy covers surround a rugged stainless steel chassis

• Highly accurate 77 segment metering system

• Pentaprism viewfinder with 100% field of view and 0.92X magnification

• Pentax body-based Shake Reduction (SR) stabilization system

• A maximum 1/8000 second shutter speed

• HDMI port outputs high definition images and video (and sound)

• Native support for both PENTAX PEF and Adobe DNG 14-bit RAW files

• Improved in-camera HDR image capture

• A wide range of in-camera image processing and special effects filters

• Customizable RAW/Fx button

• Built-in electronic level with tilt scale display

• SDXC memory card compatibility (via firmware update)

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The K5 In Use. How Did I Like It After Not Using A DSLR For Months?

So here I was with a DSLR after not using one for months. It was kind of weird for me because as most of you know who come here on a regular basis, I love my Leica cameras and I love my small cameras. I just DO NOT get into big bulky DSLR’s anymore. As good as some of them are (Nikon D700, Canon 5DII) they are just too damn big for me to carry around on a daily basis. I am one of those guys who bring a camera with me EVERYWHERE I go. If I run to the store for milk I have a camera on me. I do this because with todays small cameras that also pump out high quality, it is not an issue bringing them along.

The K5 is just at that point to where I would question if I should leave it at home or automatically strap it around my shoulder. Cameras like the Olympus E-P2 and Sony NEX-5 could go everywhere and provide good quality. The K5 would provide even better quality but it’s a but larger and heavier BUT it is also built like a tank and weather sealed! When it was all said and done I found that I had no problem taking the K5 along with me when I went out. The K5 paired with some of the awesome Limited prime lenses give you a kit that is on the smaller side (for a DSLR) but also gives you pro results. I was noticing better image quality with the K5 and 43 Limited than I was getting out of the Micro 4/3 cameras and the NEX-5 as well.

Pentax K5 with the 18-200 Kit Zoom at 3.5 – ISO 400 – 1/50th s

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Pentax K5 with the 18-200 Kit Zoom at 18mm – ISO 1600

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One really nice thing about the K5 is how quiet it is. When I fired the shutter it was REALLY smooth and quiet. I LOVED the sound and it made my NEX-5 sound like a shotgun. Everything about the K5 was just…well…SMOOTH. I felt like I was still shooting the K7 as it felt exactly the same but I was getting faster AF and better high ISO performance. One thing to note is that almost every image you see here was shot as a JPEG and they are pretty much straight from camera images. If I did anything to them it was just level adjustments or maybe a contrast bump.

The Pentax K5, like the K7 has very good out of camera JPEGS. They can be a little on the soft side but they sharpen up well.

Bokeh Test – Pentax K5 with the 43 Limited wide open at 1.9 – ISO 200

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Pretty sharp wide open at 1.9…love these little Pentax limited lenses!

Again, if you did not read my K7 review please do so HERE as quite a bit of it (like the video showing the features and menu) IS the same as the K5. Basically, this K5 is a KILLER DSLR with amazing *EVERYTHING!* Being a fan of the unique I would buy this camera over the Nikon D7000 as I feel it’s just as good if not better. It’s smaller and the Limited lenses ROCK. The Pentax K5 along with a 31, 43 and 77 limited lens set would be amazing! Add in a nice wide angle limited like the 15 f/4 or 21 3.2 and you can have a pro quality kit for less than an equivilant Nikon or Canon setup. Besides…EVERYONE shoots Nikon and Canon these days! Why not support a company that made a kick ass camera for those with a photographic mind. If I were in the market for a DSLR (and this one just might push me over the edge) the K5 would be mine.

This camera is built for the photographer. I really can’t see an area that is lacking with it. It’s build is top notch, its image quality is up there with the best APS-C cameras available, its out of camera JPEGS have great color and quality, its HD video rocks, it has all of the bells and whistles and then some, and it is very customizable. The K5 seems to do everything right.

So did I like it as much as  the K7? NO, I liked it even better :)

Pentax K5 with the 18-200 Kit Zoom at 18mm, f/3.5, ISO 100

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Same settings as above…

High ISO Testing

My one complaint about the Pentax K7 was it had limited high ISO performance. After ISO 1600 it started to get grainy. Though I said I would use it up to 2500 (which is damn good) I was curious to see if the K5 was living up to the hype of having better high ISO performance. Here are the results of my high ISO test.

I have to say, even ISO 12,800 looks pretty decent. I would use it if I needed to really get the shot. It appears the ISO 12800 shot is sharper but that was most likely due to the shutter speed/focus. The K5 is improved over the K7 with high ISO and these are some of the best results I have seen, right up there with the Sony A33/A55/NEX cameras and honestly…possibly better.

Here is one more at ISO 6400 along with a 100% crop…

To my eyes, this little K5 is giving me the best high ISO performance I have seen to date with an APS-X sensor.

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In Camera Filters

The K5 has in camera filters like the K7 did. The two I liked the most were the Toy Camera and High Contrast filters. Here are a couple of quick out of camera samples.

The Toy Camera Filter…

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and the high contrast filter…

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Full Size Out Of Camera JPEGS and crops

Here is a quick snap I shot wide open at 1.9 so you can see the quality of an untouched out of camera JPEG. Click the image below for the full size file..

Pentax K5 with the 43 Limited lens wide open at 1.9 – Has that creamy/dreamy feel going on

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and this next one was shot a little stopped down at f/2.5 – click for full size

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Here is a test shot to show how sharp this lens is, even when shot as a JPEG and untouched…

and the 100% crop below…I do see some CA/Purple Fringing but again, this is an out of camera JPEG shot wide open at 1.9

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HD 1080P Video Quality – Random Video Samples

I am very impressed with the HD video of the Pentax K5. Even in lower light it keeps its rich color and with a nice lens like the 43 Limited mounted the K5 delivers awesome video. The built in IS works well as you can see in my video samples below which is ALL handheld to test the IS. I also found the video implementation much better on the K5 and yea it does 1080P. You can watch the video below in your browser or right click on it and choose “watch on youtube” if you want to see the 1080P version.

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The 43 1.9 Limited Lens – It’s awesome!

The 43 Limited 1.9 lens! What a great lens this is for this camera. The 43mm focal length will give you an equivalent of a 64mm lens so it is a but long but I loved this lens. While not up to Leica quality, the Pentax Limited lenses do have a unique signature look to them and I really enjoy this look. The lenses are also very small. When compared to a NIkon or Canon prime these small Pentax lenses are an absolute joy to look at and use. To be honest, even the Pentax kit zoom is good. One of the better kit lenses I have tried out. Pentax knows how to make a great lens, no doubt.

Here are a few more images with the 43 limited to wet your appetite and if you are a Pentax shooter you can buy this lens at B&H Photo HERE, my preferred camera dealer for Pentax. BTW, the in camera stabilization works AWESOME with this lens with photo and video. Yea, the K5 has IN BODY IS (image stabilization).

MORE FROM THE 43 LIMITED LENS ON THE PENTAX K5

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The Kit Zoom – It’s great!

I also enjoyed the kit zoom just like I did when I shot it with the K7. I found it was plenty sharp and the image stabilization works VERY well with this lens. It’s construction is on the cheaper side but better than some of the Nikon, Canon and Olympus kit zooms I have shot with. The IQ is there though and with the K5s great IQ and high ISO performance, even a slower lens like this can yield great results.

My reviews are always based on real use and the image quality. If I enjoy using a camera…if it inspires me to go out and shoot…if it has character and feels good in the hand then I will most likely enjoy it. I always try to get out there and get real photos with whatever I am reviewing and sometimes it takes me a while due to me always shooting with so many cameras! While my photos here may not be amazing, I do feel they show that the K5 is a highly capable camera, even with the kit zoom which will only set you back another $100 or so when buying the kit. Well worth it over just buying the body.

The next 7 images were all shot with the Pentax K5 and the 18-55 Kit Zoom

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So, you have $1500 to spend…which camera to buy? The K5 vs ?

Since I get to shoot with so many cameras and lenses I get asked on a daily basis “what camera should I buy”? While I usually try to avoid giving this advice I decided to write down my opinions on a few other cameras vs this Pentax K5. Maybe this will help you decide which one is right for you…

The K5 vs the Nikon D7000 or D300s

If starting from scratch..if you do not own or are not invested in any lenses from a certain manufacturer then this could be a tough call. Nikon is legendary and will always be around. Their glass is phenomenal (but expensive for the good stuff) and the body that would go up against the K5 would be the D7000 or D300s though the D7000 is a little cheaper. If given the choice between the two I would take the K5. If given the choice between the D300s or the K5 that one is a bit tougher but due to size alone I would go with the Pentax K5. I like the video better on the K5 as well. If size is not a concern then the D7000 and the D300s are great DSLR’s but the K5 is better built and smaller than the D7000. Yea, I would go with a K5. But that is just me, and this is just my opinion.

The K5 vs the Ricoh GXR

Hmmm. I love the GXR along with the 28 and 50mm modules. The image quality is stellar and they have their own unique look that is not far off from a Leica look. The Ricoh is also made VERY well but it is much smaller. The only con with the GXR over the K5 is the GXR is not a DSLR so their is no optical viewfinder. The K5 will give you better AF, better higher ISO capabilities, and a slew of other features that the GXR does not but for overall IQ at lower ISO, I personally (slightly) prefer the GXR with the 28 and 50. Plus you can buy the GXR with both modules for about the same price as the K5 with its kit zoom. There is just something about that GXR for B&W and people photography. Still, it is not a DSLR so if you want a non full frame DSLR the K5 is the one I would get. What you lose in size and weight over a GXR you gain in functionality, speed, ISO and HD video features and I love the K5 as a complete package. It all depends on your needs and wants.

The K5 vs ?

I’d rather but the K5 than the competing Canon DSLR. The bottom line is that the Pentax K5 is an improvement over the already superb K7. It’s features are professional grade and there really isn’t much you couldn’t do with one. Would I trade a Leica M9 for one? NO WAY! But for a DSLR, again, it is the one I would buy if I were in the market for one under $1500. In fact, the only DSLR I would prefer over the K5 is probably the Nikon D700 but that comes in at quite a bit more money and it is much larger.

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My Final Word On The Pentax K5

If you want a DSLR on the small side that will give you pro build, pro weather sealing, pro image quality and great HD video with the availability of some GREAT prime lenses then look no further. Pentax may not be as big of a name as Nikon or Canon but I have always been a fan of the “little guys” who do things right. Pentax has done almost everything right with this camera. I sat here for 2 hours wondering what I could say that was NEGATIVE about this camera and I really came away with NOTHING! So no pro/con section this time because to be honest, I love this camera and have no negative things to really sat. It’s AF is fast, it’s IS is superb, its IQ is fantastic and it just has so much going for it.

UPDATE: After posting this review a couple of readers did point out one negative that would make this a perfect DSLR if Pentax implemented it. FULL MANUAL CONTROL during video. Maybe Pentax can do this via a firmware update? Either way, I still love this little guy and found its ease of use, customization, dynamic range, high ISO performance and build to be up there with the best pro DSLR’s.

If you are not afraid of shooting with a DSLR that doesn’t say Nikon or Canon on it then JUMP on this one. I can not imagine anyone being disappointed in it. If I had to complain about anything it would be that the menus look kind of generic. Not as polished as the other brands but it’s the menu, not a big deal. The K5 is quiet, customizable, and delivers the goods. Even its shutter is rated at 100,000 click and goes to 1/8000s which means we can use those fast lenses during the day. WIll I buy one? I WOULD IF I COULD but I can’t afford to right now! The Pentax K5 is amazing and with those sweet Pentax Limited lenses, even better. Way to go Pentax, you managed to improve upon the K7 and delivered and all terrain, all weather DSLR that is small, built like a tank and gives outstanding quality in good light and low light. Video is SUPERB as well. An all around fantastic camera.

In closing, I know this review has been VERY positive and for those who know me and my style…when I really like a camera or a lens I tend to get excited about it and yes, this comes out in my real world use reviews. The K5 got me pretty excited and I just wish I had more time with it so I could do it justice. The photos in this review were just what I was able to shoot over the past 2-3 weeks, snapshots really but I most of us shoot this way anyway. If you really want to see some amazing images with this camera and the limited lenses, click here. Inspiring stuff!

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You can buy the Pentax K5 at B&H Photo who I HIGHLY recommend for all of your photo gear.

Click here to go direct to their Pentax K5 BODY ONLY page.

Click here to go direct to their Pentax K5 with Kit Zoom page.

Some great lens choices for the K5 – The Pentax 31 LIMITED F/1.8, The Pentax 77 Limited f/1.8, The 43 1.9 limited, The 15 Limited.

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Jan 082011
 

It’s only been three days since the Leica M9 contest went live and things are heating up. I have received about 20 entries so far but unfortunately only three of them are eligible! The rules were laid out on the contest page HERE but I will list them off again one more  time.

Also, many of you have had issues registering at picortwo.com over the past two days. From what I understand the issues there have been fixed so make sure you head over there and register. You can do so HERE. I just verified it is 100% working.

If you have submitted images that were not taken between Jan 05th – Feb 05th 2011 then you must re-submit. If you have sent only one image, you must re-submit. If you have sent more than two you must re-submit. If the EXIF data is not present (basically the date they were shot) then you must re-submit. Thank you and GOOD LUCK to all!

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THE RULES – Follow them or be disqualified! READ READ READ! IMPORTANT!

  1. You must register at picortwo.com and stevehuffphoto.com to be eligible to enter and win. Again, to be clear – you will only be eligible to win if your name and email address is registered at both websites. See steps 1 & 2 above to do this.
  2. When you submit your images make them no larger than 1300 pixels wide but also no smaller than 680 pixels wide.
  3. You must submit TWO images that form a narrative to enter and win.
  4. Include your name, address, email address, age, and topic title with the submission and a short note about you and your passion for photography.
  5. Photos can be taken with ANY camera – film, digital, or even a cel phone. This is not about the gear you are using to take the photos but more about the photos themselves.
  6. You can submit only ONE SET of images that tell a story – no text explaining what the story it, just a topic title. ONE ENTRY PER PERSON.
  7. Photos for this contest must be taken between the submission dates (1/05/11 – 02/05/11). In other words, they must be taken for this contest. No old photos allowed.
  8. EXIF Data must be present in the photos so I can verify dates. If you do not know what this means then you should be OK. Basically do not strip the EXIF data! If shooting film, just let me know the dates you shot the film.
  9. Contest begins on 1/05/11 and the deadline for your submission will be 2/05/11. Top 10 will be chosen by Steve Huff on 2/15/11 and they will be posted on the site for all to see. The final two winners will be chosen by Heidi Klum and Rankin and announced on March 1st 2011.
  10. The 1st prize is a black Leica M9 signed by Seal and Steve Huff. This was the personal M9 of Seal, so it is used but in great shape. The 2nd place prize will be a new Leica V-Lux 2.
  11. THIS IS A WORLDWIDE CONTEST! No matter where you live, you can enter!
  12. Steve Huff, Seal, and family members are not eligible to enter or win (Damn!)
  13. The decision of all judges is FINAL. No complaining, no whining and no bitching allowed in the comments. Keep it fun and let’s all have a good time.
  14. Finally, your submitted images may be shown on the site if you make the top 10 so you are giving rights for me to show your images here if you make it.
Jan 072011
 

Some great posts from 2010, year in review

By Steve Huff

2010 FLEW by for me and while it had its ups, it also  had its downs. One thing is for certain… there were some AWESOME posts in 2010! The past year also brought the new forums , the free buy/sell section , and even a new super fast dedicated server for the site :) Even the Leica M9 image database is still up and running! There were photographer interviews, loads of informative guest articles and tons of discussion on all of it.

2010 brought me some cool photo opportunities. I made it in to Pbase magazine with a story on my old homeless project, I made it in to the Seal tour book and also had my European Seal tour images included with the new Seal CD Commitment for the deluxe LP version on Itunes. The TV brand Vizio is using one of my images on their boxes soon and I have been interviewed by several web sites and a couple of old fashioned newspapers. I shot a few weddings in 2010 and even held the first stevehuffphoto.com meetup in NYC, selling it out with 21 people attending.

All in all it was a GREAT year and while 2010 was the year in which my 15 year marriage ended I feel like it was also a new beginning for me and feel blessed that all of you come here every day. This site has become my life…my baby. I love it!

With that said, here are some of the hottest articles that were posted in 2010. You may have seen them all, but maybe you missed one so here they are! Enjoy!

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THE HOTTEST POSTS OF 2010

My 1st Featured Photographer Interview with 18 year old Leica M8 Shooter Megan Baker - (She is trying to get to 1000 twitter followers and needs 200 more. If  you want to follow her on twitter you can do so HERE)

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Another great interview was my Shelby Lee Adams piece. Controversial or not, I Love his work.

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Ashwin Rao has submitted many great articles to date and this one was one of my faves. All about his Leica M9 and his travels. A must see!

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My trip down memory lane with my Leica Digilux 2!

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Amy Medina told us why she takes pictures EVERY DAY

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My Leica S2 review was posted last year..what a camera..

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Taking road trips…a great way to get motivated!

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Film is NOT dead! My Leica MP review…what a camera. Also the new Fuji Medium Format GF670 was reviewed.

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Low speed film with fast lenses. A great post by Max Marinucci!

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My Seal European tour experience – Day 1 & 2, Day 3 , Day 4 & 5

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Is the Leica M8 right for you? Even more from the Leica M8. EVEN MORE!

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Images from most who attended the NYC meetup!

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My Pentax K7 review was read by MANY (The K5 review by MONDAY, PROMISE!)

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There were so many more great articles but these were some of the hottest and most viewed. Looking forward to many more in 2011!

Jan 062011
 

Hi Steve,

Happy New Year, all the best to you, your family and all of your loyal readers. I’m confident 2011 is going to be a huge and successful year for your site. What a great way to start the new year than with the amazing announcement of the Great M9 give away! Seal (~6) is really an awesome guy for donating such a brilliant gift to your site.

For this submission I want to explore a simple statement:

Can a viewfinder or absence there of, really affect photographic results?

After a busy Christmas and New Year schedule, I’ve finally got around to processing about a months worth of street shooting I’ve been doing with my X1. I’ve recently been lucky enough to get the 36mm Bright Line Viewfinder for it and what a viewfinder it is!

Since my Leica compacts have virtually made my SLR gear obsolete for the last two years, I’ve really missed the simple act of holding a camera to the eye. Its sounds basic but by holding the camera at arms length to view the screen really impacts on your photography. Not just the obvious effect on camera stability and therefore sharpness of photographs, but the psychological impact it has on framing and composition. I believe you view and approach subjects differently by holding the camera to the eye as many of you may agree. It also allows you a to take a photo much quicker and in a more discrete action. Walking around the street pointing a camera at arms length toward people is enough to scare away any would be subject.

So after a good few shoots with my new viewfinder and new shooting philosophy I’ve submitted a couple of my favourite photographs. I’ve picked these four as they seem to be connected with a continuing theme, a kind of atmosphere of anonymity.

Hopefully this may open up a discussion on compact cameras and micro 4/3rds with or without viewfinders versus Rangefinders and SLRs.

Please check out some of my other X1 experimentation at my Flickr page:

www.flickr.com/photos/djdelavega

All the best!

D.J. De La Vega

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Jan 062011
 

JUPI-WHAT? Shooting Jupiter Lenses on the Leica M9

By Robert Chisholm

There is a certain allure and mystique to rangefinder photography. The obvious “whatsit”? The mystery of why any self respecting photographer would shoot a “manual everything” rangefinder in a modern world of do-it-all dSLRs. If that question is not enough of a head scratcher for you, another is why anyone who pays top dollar for a camera would then work with any lens other than the latest and greatest Leica glass? Well, I can not answer the first question, only to say that I am either fool or a genius (opinions vary) for choosing a $7k camera that won’t even focus for me! But shooting non-Leica glass? There are actually good reasons to choose and use old(er), non-Leica lenses.

Because Leica rangefinder cameras are manual focus and because the lens mount from the first screw mount lenses can be adapted to the modern “M” mount, lens choices are vast. This is fantastic for us; A photographer can research and choose lenses that draw in a fashion that is visually and emotionally appealing, sometimes with a “look” you just can’t get from contemporary glass. Leica glass also tends to be very expensive and often someone can get an entire lens outfit for the price of one new Leica lens.

The obvious drawback to legacy glass is that the designs, glass and lens coatings might be technically inferior to current, modern equivalents. While this could be very important to a landscape photographer, these “flaws” may be less significant or even desirable to a portrait or street artist.

How low can you go: How old? How inexpensive? How poorly built? And why would anyone with an expensive camera like the M9 even want to ask such silly questions?

Well, the answer to the last question is because you can, and it’s amusing! There is also a bit of romance to old lenses and a nostalgia that comes with using equipment made by someone from another era. I mean, I am using lenses built by a man or woman who has probably moved on from this lifetime, who lived in a country that only exists in the history books and at a time when things like computers weren’t imagined and penicillin was the only antibiotic. It was a time when my dad walked ten miles to school every morning in the snow barefoot and up hill both ways. That’s cool!

Jupiter lenses: What are they and what do we know?

While the story of Russian-made rangefinder cameras and lenses is waaaay beyond the scope of this article, one brand seems to stand out: Jupiter. The used market seems flush with jupiter lenses, especially the 50mm Jupiters, the Jupiter-3 (f1.5) and Jupiter-8 (f2).

Now, in rangefinder world, the two focal lengths people seem to love most are the 50 and 35. I know some people are true blue 35mm folks, but I’m a 50 guy. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good 35 as much as the next shooter, but if I could only have one lens, it would be a 50! Therefore, the 50mm Jupiters attracted me, and I wanted to find out more.

A little time spent googling the net and lurking in the forums revealed that the Jupiter 8 is reported to be a decent performer optically, at least on film, with the Jupiter 3 being more hit or miss. Both lenses suffer from poor overall mechanical builds, reflecting the Soviet era shoddy workmanship. Sounds really great so far!

Digging a little deeper revealed more concerning details: People note focus issues on the digital rangefinder (ie., the M8). Specifically, the lenses are known to back focus a few inches. The Jupiter 3 is a sonar design and, like the modern Zeiss, has it’s own inherent tendency to focus shift at middle apertures. This is a separate issue from the aforementioned back focusing, but does complicate the overall focus picture with this lens. I suspect that the back focusing issue of both lenses exists on film as well, but is magnified or at least seems to be magnified with the digital cameras given our ability to pixel peep (and to take and critique photos more readily).

Enter Brian Sweeney, a moderator on the rangefinder forum. Brian happens to be a Jupiter lens aficionado and is THE resident online Jupiter expert. He also is one heck of a nice guy! Brian informed me that the difference in build specs between the Russian rangefinder cameras and our beloved Leicas is the root cause of the back focusing issue, and that the lenses, when shimmed properly, can be adjusted to focus correctly! Bingo, big problem solved!

Now, purchasing a Jupiter 50mm lens is both easy and somewhat difficult. The Jupiter 8 sells for about 25 bucks and the Jup 3 is about $120-150 — both readily available on “the Bay.” Easy schmeasy. The hard part is the random chance of getting a dud versus a stud, optically speaking. Nobody likes to throw their money away, but just try returning a lens to some guy from Where-The-Heck-Is-It-Stan — Ain’t gonna happen. Cross your fingers!

OK, so you fancy yourself an eBay gambler and the focus issues are more of a mole hill than a mountain. The lure of the elusive 50mm lens is calling and you’ve just got to see if these Russians can make anything besides vodka and borscht. Mandler who?

Jupiter-8: the Small, Sexy, Retro 50

Right up front, I’m going to say the Jupiter 8 is one sexy lens on a black M9! While the older Jupiters are silver, then later ones are black, and the color matches the flat black paint on the M9 to a “T.” Color coupled with the rugged Black M9 vulcanite covering gives an almost military impression which I just love. The two look like they were made to go together. That either says very little for Leica, or a whole bunch for those Ruskies…

The minimum focus distance on the standard Jupiter 8 is 1 meter; While this distance was adequate on the M8 due to the crop factor, I often find myself needing or wanting a little bit closer focusing for my general 50mm shooting with the full frame M9. Fortunately, not only did Brian Sweeney shim my Jupiters for me, he even improved the Jupiter 8 to allow a minimum focusing distance of 0.8m. Sweeeeeeet!

The Jupiter 8 makes a great walk around lens, being small and unobtrusive. The focusing action is smooth and the simple focusing ring, while thin, provides adequate grip. The aperture ring is the weakest part of both Jupiters, as there are no detents or reassuring clicks and once you set an aperture, any little bump can and will turn the aperture ring. One has to get used to checking the aperture ring often. Perfectionists and/or the easily frustrated need not apply!

So, down to the brass tax: Are the images from the Jupiter 8 any good? In a word, and with caveats, yes. The images are indeed very, very good.

First, my perspective: We all have those Holy Grail lenses, the lenses that, for one reason or another, we just adore and against which all similar focal lengths are compared. For me, for general purpose 50’s, the Holy Grail if you will is the Zeiss 50 f2 Planar. I consider faster 50’s specialty lenses as they are usually larger and optically best at wide apertures. The summiluxes, noctiluxes, noktons and sonars all fall into this specialty category. I’m not saying you can’t shoot a noctilux all day and at f4, but a small 50 summicron might fit the bill better for all day shooting at f2-f8 apertures.

Being a 50mm enthusiast, I have had the pleasure of owning (my wife might say a problem with buying) quite a few 50mm lenses: the modern 50 summicron, Voigtlander 50 f2 heliar, Voigtlander 50 1.1 and 1.5 noktons, Canon 50 1.4 and 1.2 ltm’s, Konica Hexanon 50 f2, an older 50 collapsible summicron, the 2 Jupiters in this article, and the Zeiss planar. These days, while the planar spends most of the time on the camera, I like having a faster 50 when I want to shoot low light or portraits with especially shallow depth of field.

While some folks enjoys landscapes and others shoot street, I photograph mostly candids/people/fashion. I don’t need my lenses to be the absolute sharpest, but I do look at how a lens renders skin, colors, bokeh, and 3-d pop. Skin drawing is of top importance to me – a lens that is overly harsh on skin is generally a deal breaker. Many a 50 has come and gone simply based on skin rendering alone. The M9, in comparison to the M8, seems to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of a given lens, and what might have been a minor annoyance on the M8 often becomes a glaring flaw on the M9. Frustrating? Indeed! I have had to become much more choosy with my lens selections for the M9.

So I shoot 50s and I shoot people. For this article, as I know people get sick of seeing shots of someone’s family, I tried to include a few shots of non-people taken with the Jup 8 while on a recent trip to the zoo. You know, to mix it up. I should also mention that I post-process all my images to taste, preferring to use tools such as Lightroom, Exposure, and Silver Effex. None of the photos presented are raw and all have been edited to some artistic effect. Therefore, things like color cast and contrast have been mucked with.

The Jupiter 8 images are very pleasant to work with. I like the medium contrast files and the clarity. The bokeh is what I would label “energetic” while not being overly nervous or jittery. The bokeh is not, however, buttery smooth. The color rendition is somewhat cold or flat, but there is good 3-d pop. As I edit in film emulators, such as Exposure, flat files are often a nice starting point. Skin drawing is average, but thankfully not harsh. As to sharpness wide open, my copy of the lens is somewhat soft at f2, but does sharpen up by f4. The lens is of similar performance to the Voigltander 50mm heliar (no slouch) and the older collapsible 50mm summicron (which was of very low contrast, however). The lens does not come close to the 50mm planar, which I find to be the absolute best 50 f2 on the market optically. But the Jup 8 cost, with shipping and CLA charges factored in, all of $100 — It has real bang for the buck! Moreover, the Jup 8 is just plain fun to shoot, and I especially like the black and white photos it produces — They look very special and interesting to my eyes!

How about that Sonar?

Let’s move on to the main course, to the big boy, optically speaking: The Jupiter 3, f1.5 Sonar! Physically, this lens is actually quite small. It is just a bit bigger than the Jup 8, and much smaller than the f1.5 nokton and Canon 50 f1.4. My copy is an older chrome version, and the same overall comments about physical attributes and build apply. The aperture ring is a touch tighter on the Jup 3, so the aperture tends to stay set, which is nice. Minimum focus distance is 0.9m.

Optically, this lens is surprisingly, um, awesome. Awesome as in a knock-your-socks-off, photo making monster of a lens! The colors, the bokeh, the pop, the character of the lens — all fantastic. Now I can’t compare this lens to the famed noctilux or modern “wunderlens” summilux. But this lens optically out-performs the Voigtlander noktons as well as both of the fast Canons. I shoot it from wide open to f4 and have not noticed any issues with focus shift. Brian adjusted this lens to focus dead on when wide open and it certainly is — Focus on an eye and count the eyelashes!

Skin is drawn gently with this lens, while maintaining good in-focus sharpness. The out of focus areas have have a lovely calm glow that seems somehow old fashioned, as if this lens is still taking photos 50 years ago. Not busy all, which I appreciate.

The Jupiter 3, being a different design than the Jup 8, has a much different look and the lenses actually complement each other quite well.

My verdict on the Jupiter 50’s

What can ya say, other than fun, with incredible bang for the buck?

The Jupiter 8 makes for a cool, small walk-around lens and produces some quality files, especially black and whites (I have provided mostly color files here to show what the lens can do.).

The Jupiter 3 is magical when shooting wide open and continues to be excellent when stopped down. It would excel for anyone who enjoys shooting people and needs something faster than f2. Of the Jupiters, it is the clear lens to own, if you can get a good copy and then have it adjusted to focus properly. The Jupiter 3 is good enough to be one of my main lenses, and has replaced any interest I might have had in trying a Leica fast 50. However, I will be keeping and shooting both the Jup 3 and Jup 8 lenses. They are unique in the images they produce, and frankly, it is a blast to use these relic lenses on my modern M9!

I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please continue to support Steve’s site. If you want to see more of my photos, my flickr page is http://www.flickr.com/photos/feros-ferio/

All the best! — Rob Chisholm

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!

Jan 052011
 

NO MORE ENTRIES! THE DEADLINE HAS ARRIVED! WATCH FOR THE TOP 15 TO BE POSTED BY FEB 15th 2011!

THE LATEST UPDATE: NO MORE ENTRIES!

Wow, Almost 1500 shares of this page via facebook! Awesome!

UPDATE: PLEASE READ THE LIST OF RULES BELOW AND THE STEPS TO ENTER. I HAVE ALREADY HAD SEVERAL PEOPLE ENTER THAT DID NOT FOLLOW THE RULES SO THEIR ENTRY WAS NOT SUBMITTED TO THE CONTEST. THE IMAGES MUST BE SHOT BETWEEN 01/05/11 and 02/05/11. I AM NOT TAKING IMAGES THAT WERE SHOT BEFORE THIS DATE. TIME TO GET CREATIVE, Read  the rules and steps below!

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January 5th 2011 – THE GREAT LEICA M9 GIVE-AWAY CONTEST HAS BEGUN!

The time has come! The Leica M9 Give-Away has begun! Read on for the details…the rules…and how YOU can win this Leica M9 signed by both Seal and myself on the inside bottom plate. Spread the word to all of your photo friends and send them here so they can also enter this amazing contest! ONE OF YOU READING THIS NOW WILL WIN THIS LEICA M9!

I will be adding photos of the actual camera VERY soon…stay tuned for that.

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THANKS TO THE GENEROSITY OF Seal (~6)

The Black M9 that we are giving away was donated by ~6 (Seal) which was his previous personal M9. He just recently received his gorgeous Titanium M9 ( see his post HERE) so he kindly donated his black M9 to this site so we could give it away in this contest.  Not only that…since NO ONE has ever given away a $7000 Leica M9, the inside bottom plate will be signed by both of us to mark this special occasion!

What most of you already know is that the man who posts here as “~6″  is the recording artist and photographer Seal. If you did not know that, now you do. This contest/giveaway was his idea and when he approached  me about it I was VERY excited. I mean, what other website has given away something like a Leica M9? Seal is not only intensely passionate about music, but also photography and I am proud to call him on of my dearest friends. How cool is it that he has donated his personal BLACK M9 to give away here? IT’s AMAZINGLY INCREDIBLE!

Since he has been so generous with the M9 donation for the up coming contest I wanted to mention HIS new website.

Just recently Seal has launched a very cool photo website called picortwo.com and I urge you to go check it out and register to follow your favorite photographer. Basically you can follow any photographer on the site..Seal, his wife Heidi, or any of the other photographers on the site. Just by entering your e-mail address you will recieve a pic or two in your mailbox every day that they took during the day.

For example, if you are following Seal, every day you will get a pic or two in your email that he shot THAT DAY. It’s like you are following the daily life of the photographer you follow. So make sure you go check it out at picortwo.com. Browse the photographers and follow whoever you like. It’s REALLY cool and REALLY fun.

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What you have been waiting for! How you can enter and win this camera!

Anyone can enter and anyone can win. Well, anyone who is passionate about photography that is. We wanted to make sure that whoever wins it will cherish it and USE it for their photography. Hell, I would love to have it myself but I would rather give it away to a reader here who has that passion and love for photography. That is what this site is all about..the passion!

So here is how to enter, along with the rules:

It is a photo submission contest  but it is about telling a story with only 2 photos. This is called “sequential narrative photography” or creating a photo narrative. This can be challenging, fun, and also spark your creative juices. In case you need some pointers, Here is a description I found online of a photo narrative.

These photos can be of any subject but you must pic a topic for your story. Just make sure that the images form a narrative and tell a story. The only thing being judged here is the two photos and the topic/title.

Also, just for my information, along with the photos tell me something about yourself (just a short 2-3 sentences) and why a Leica M9 would help you in your photographic journey. That is it. This contest is NOT about what equipment you use to take the shots. As a matter of fact, you can use a cel phone to take the images and yes, a cel phone image may just win. Again, it is NOT about the equipment but more about the photos as a set.

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How the winners will be chosen..

At the deadline, all submissions will be looked over and I will pick the top 10. After that, the top 10 will be sent directly to the two final judges who will pick the winners.

Who are the two final judges? Seals wife, Heidi Klum and professional photographer Rankin will do the honor of choosing the first and second place winners. Yep, this contest is big time now and yes, there is a 2nd place price which is being supplied by Leica Camera themselves! Exciting huh?

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The Prizes:

The 1st place prize:

A black Leica M9 which is slightly used. This was Seal’s personal M9 and will be signed by the both of us on the inside bottom plate. This is a $7000 camera if buying new. NEW – If you “like” my facebook fan page for this site you will also be sent a Leica 50 Summitar lens!

The 2nd place prize:

The 2nd place prize will be a new in box Leica V-Lux 2 supplied by Leica Camera. $849 value. Pretty cool huh?

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THE FIVE STEPS TO WINNING THE LEICA M9

OK here is how you can officially enter this contest.

Step 1:

You must go over to picortwo.com and register and follow at least one photographer at the site. For example, you can follow Seal, Heidi or Rankin and you will get an e-mail with their pics when they submit a pic or two from their daily lives. This step is mandatory! If you are already registered then move to Step 2. If you have difficulty registering just go HERE, HERE or HERE (or all 3)  and enter your e-mail address and click FOLLOW.

Step 2:

You must also be registered at this site. When you register here this will allow you to not only enter all contests but will also allow you to post in the forums and take part in future activities here on the site. So after you register over at picortwo.com you must register here. To do so, click HERE. This step is also mandatory! If you are already registered here, move to Step 3.

Step 3:

Take your photos. To enter you must submit only 2 photos that form a story. We must be able to know what is going on by looking at the photos so because of this there will be no text explaining the photos, just your topic. For example your topic could be called “People in the Park”. Take 2 photos that form a narrative and number them in sequential order. Submit them to me at my e-mail [email protected] along with your name, address, e-mail address, age, topic title and tell me about you and your photographic passion (but keep it short and brief..no essays). Photos must be shot between now and the deadline date of February 5th 2011.

Step 4:

HELP SPREAD THE WORD!

I want as many photographers to know about this as possible. I want EVERYONE to be able to have a shot at this so help me spread the word by tweeting this, or by posting it to your facebook (you can use the handy buttons at the top of this page to do so), or mentioning it wherever you can – digg, forums, or wherever! Just linking back to this page will help tremendously and make this contest a success. If it is a success, more will come :) This is not a mandatory step of course, but will help me out a bit.

Step 5:

Get excited and Wait. I will be accepting submissions starting today, January 5th 2011. Submissions will end on February 5th 2011. The contest duration is 30 days. On February 15th I will post the top 10 winners on this site along with their photos. The top 10 will then go to Heidi Klum and Rankin for final selection. The winner will be announced on March 1st 2011 and the Leica M9 will be shipped out to the winner by March 15th 2011.

The 2nd place winner will win a Leica V-Lux 2 supplied by Leica Camera. Both cameras will be shipped by me via FedEx to the winners no later than March 15th 2011.

THE RULES – Follow them or be disqualified! READ READ READ! IMPORTANT!

  1. You must register or at least be following a photographer at picortwo.com and stevehuffphoto.com to be eligible to enter and win. Again, to be clear – you will only be eligible to win if your name and email address is registered at both websites. See steps 1 & 2 above to do this.
  2. When you submit your images make them no larger than 1300 pixels wide but also no smaller than 680 pixels wide.
  3. You must submit TWO images that form a narrative to enter and win.
  4. Include your name, address, email address, age, and topic title with the submission and a short note about you and your passion for photography.
  5. Photos can be taken with ANY camera – film, digital, or even a cel phone. This is not about the gear you are using to take the photos but more about the photos themselves.
  6. You can submit only ONE SET of images that tell a story – no text explaining what the story it, just a topic title. ONE ENTRY PER PERSON and ONE ENTRY PER HOUSEHOLD.
  7. Photos for this contest must be taken between the submission dates (1/05/11 – 02/05/11). In other words, they must be taken for this contest. No old photos allowed.
  8. EXIF Data must be present in the photos so I can verify dates. If you do not know what this means then you should be OK. Basically do not strip the EXIF data! If shooting film, just let me know the dates you shot the film.
  9. Contest begins on 1/05/11 and the deadline for your submission will be 2/05/11. Top 10 will be chosen by Steve Huff on 2/15/11 and they will be posted on the site for all to see. The final two winners will be chosen by Heidi Klum and Rankin and announced on March 1st 2011.
  10. The 1st prize is a black Leica M9 signed by Seal and Steve Huff. This was the personal M9 of Seal, so it is used but in great shape. The 2nd place prize will be a new Leica V-Lux 2.
  11. THIS IS A WORLDWIDE CONTEST! No matter where you live, you can enter!
  12. Steve Huff, Seal, and family members are not eligible to enter or win (Damn!)
  13. The decision of all judges is FINAL. No complaining, no whining and no bitching allowed in the comments. Keep it fun and let’s all have a good time.
  14. Finally, your submitted images may be shown on the site if you make the top 10 so you are giving rights for me to show your images here if you make it.

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SUBMIT YOUR ENTRIES HERE!

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TELL A STORY WITH PHOTOGRAPHS!

There are several ways to tell a story with sequential photos that reveal a moment, or a narrative. Get your creative juices flowing.

NARRATIVE: A good story has a beginning, middle, and an end. Lots of information can be told in as little as two photos but basically we want to be able to look at the photos and see the story. Get creative and be confident. ANYONE can win. Do not worry about what you use to shoot with as we are not looking for the best technical quality or highest resolution. If you have the ability to tell a great story with photographs then you deserve and have a great chance to win the M9.

SEQUENTIAL PHOTOS: Maybe you want to submit a set of photos that reveal a moment? For example, maybe you are shooting in the street and you see something funny that happens and can be caught within 2 frames. Does it reveal a moment or tell a story? If so, send them in. Have fun out there and get creative.

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AS ALWAYS, I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!

Again, this site has been able to stick around and grow over the past  two years thanks you YOU, the readers. Those who come here every day to see whats new, to see the passion of photography alive and well and to join in the discussions.

Thanks to you guys helping me out with buying your photo gear from my links to B&H Photo and Amazon and supporting my sponsors like Dale Photo and J-Tec. Let’s not forget Ken Hansen who has been a true friend AND a great Leica dealer. So without that support, this site would not be where it is today and this contest would not exist.

So here are those direct links again and if you ever need any photo related gear you can use the B&H Photo Link HERE (not able to bookmark the B&H link, must be clicked on from this site). If you like AMAZON, anything you buy there will help me out with pennies on the dollar (it adds up) and you can use that link HERE (and can bookmark the Amazon link!). You can also use the handy search boxes on the upper right side of any page.

Also, be sure to follow me on twitterfacebook and my RSS feed here. This all helps me out! Also, for more discussion you can visit my forums here on the site :)

ONE MORE THANKS TO ~6

Finally, thanks again to Seal. Be sure to visit SEAL.COM for his music and news, and the new picortwo.com to follow some pretty cool photographers. Without HIS support, this contest would not be happening! You can also follow him on twitter HERE and facebook HERE.

Some pics of the grand prize!

Jan 042011
 

The Timbuk 2 Bag Give-Away Top 10 – Voting Begins Now!

Sorry I am a few days late with putting up this top 10 for the Timbuk 2 Bag Give-Away but here they are! Thanks to ALL for your submissions, they were great and lifted my spirits this holiday season! Browse the holiday/winter photos below and vote for your favorite in the poll under the photos. Only one vote will count per person. The photo/photographer with the most votes by January 15th 2011 will win the bag! The bag will be shipped to the winner no later than Jan 25th 2011. The contest details and theme can be read about HERE but it was all about the holidays and winter! Enjoy! BTW, this bag was donated by thegearcaster.com.

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PHOTO #1 – Submitted by Ahmed Habis

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PHOTO #2 – Submitted by Aad Berkhout

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PHOTO #3 – Submitted by Dave Ng

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PHOTO #4 – Submitted  by Ernie Gambaz

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PHOTO #5 – Submitted by Felix Esser

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PHOTO #6 – Submitted by Greg Vassie

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PHOTO #7 – Submitted by John Gellings

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PHOTO #8 – Submitted by Rick Jacobo

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PHOTO #9 – Submitted by Vladimir Jancek

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PHOTO #10 – Submitted by Wim Jansen

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VOTE NOW FOR YOUR FAVORITE WINTER/HOLIDAY PHOTO!

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Jan 042011
 

Just a quick note to let you all know the Leica M9 contest details will be posted tomorrow morning bright and early. The contest will start tomorrow and not only that, there are a couple of cool surprises that will be announced as well (Like a 2nd place prize supplied by Leica, and the final two judges). Be prepared to get your creative juices flowing as anyone with a passion for photography can win this camera! In case you missed it I am giving away a Leica M9 here on this site. Check back tomorrow bright and early for full details and to enter!

Jan 032011
 

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From Steve: Starting off this Monday morning with a cool little guest post by Mikael Tornwall. Coming this week…The M9 Contest Details, Pentax K5 review, some film stuff, and a look at the Panasonic LX-5. Enjoy!

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Why a used M7 is more expensive than a new M9

The true cost of film by Mikael Tornwall

You have probably all heard the argument that you can buy an awful lot of film for the price difference between a new Leica M9 and a used M7. After all, the M9 is 7000 dollar, while you can get a used M7 in good condition for little more than two grand.

Besides, it’s fun to shoot film, so what is there to argue about? Well, it turns out that the M7 will probably cost you more to own than the digital M9.

Don’t get me wrong, I´m a big film enthusiast and I regularly shoot with both my antique M4-2 and M3 and my Hasselblad 201f. I love the results, but I can do without the waiting, and I can definitely do without the cost for processing and scanning.

Photography is my first and foremost my passion, even if I do take pictures from time to time for the newspaper that pays my salary. My profession is a business journalist, and as such it’s my job to calculate the true cost of things. So when I decided to get a new Leica, naturally I sat down with an Excel-sheet on my PC and figured out how much a M7 would really cost to own, including film, developing and scanning.

Top my surprise I found out that a 2500 dollar film M-camera quickly becomes more expensive than a used M8 or even a new M9.

If you are a casual photographer that maybe shoots one roll per week, the figures would suggest that you get an M7 over an M9. But even at that low rate, the M8 is less expensive to own.

I come back to all the details later in this post. For now you just have to accept these figures:

Camera Yearly cost

Used M7 $ 880

Used M8.2 $ 650

New M9 $ 1350

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Basically the cost for the M8 and M9 is only how much it loses in value every year + interest for the money it costs to buy. (Never mind if you have the money in your wallet, capital is still a cost. If you did not buy the camera, you would have a few grand to invest at let’s say 5 percent capital gain. Not taking that into account feels better, but it’s still fooling yourself!)

For the M7 the capital cost is a total of 275 dollar, while film will cost you 605 per year. I have calculated a total cost of 12 dollar per film, including processing and scanning.

Now let’s see what happens if you are a bit more ambitious and process and scan your own film. You can probably get the film cost down to about 6 or 7 dollar. Bear in mind that you will have to buy a pretty good scanner to really get full use of your expensive Leica lenses. That’s going to cost you a dollar or two per roll.

Camera Yearly cost

Used M7 $ 577

Used M8.2 $ 650

New M9 $ 1350

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Finally, the M7 is the least expensive alternative. But honestly, if you spend 2500 on a used camera and maybe as much money on lenses, you will probably shoot more than one roll per week.

So let’s try doubling that to two rolls per week, and then test one roll per day. The latter is probably more that most enthusiasts will shoot, but a low figure for a professional.

2 rolls per week (pay for scan and processing)

Camera Yearly cost

Used M7 $ 1485

Used M8.2 $ 650

New M9 $ 1350

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One roll per day/20 rolls per month

Camera Yearly cost

Used M7 $ 3155

Used M8.2 $ 650

New M9 $ 1350

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Wow, 3155 dollar per year to operate that M7, if you shoot one roll per weekday as a professional! That’s almost three times as expensive as owning the new m9.

Now, you might ask how come the M9 only costs 1350 per year, when the price tag is 7000. Here is how I have calculated.

For all three cameras I have assumed a price that you will eventually sell them for. Old film Leicas lasts forever, so I have assumed that you will keep it for 10 years and then sell it for 1000 dollar. (That is more or less what you pay for a M6 today.) The M8.2 and M9 you keep for three years. I assumed you get the M8.2 for 3000 and that you can sell it for 1500 in three years. That´s a loss of 500 per year. The M9 is new, so that’s going to lose more in value. I have assumed that it will lose as much as the M8.2 have so far, or about 3000 in three years. That’s a cost of 1000 per year. To that you have to add interest of 5 percent of whatever you buy it for.

You can argue that the film cost can be 10 instead of 12 dollar, even if you don’t process yourself. Or you can go for an even cheaper camera, lets say a M6 TTL for 1500. And yes, that will change the figures, but not dramatically. Even now the M8.2 comes out as the cheapest alternative, if you shoot 2 rolls per week.

Camera Yearly cost

Used M6 TTL $ 1133

Used M8.2 $ 650

New M9 $ 1350

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Bottom line, the M7 or the M6 might be absolutely right for you. Film after all still has a unique look that I have not been able to fully emulate with my digital cameras. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that you will save any money by getting that M7.

Myself? I had an M8.2, which still might be the second best digital camera in the world. But this little exercise made me even more convinced that upgrading to the M9 was the right choice.

BTW, here is a quick comparison shot between an M7 and M9 by Steve from last year. Fun!

Mikael

Jan 022011
 

Hey Steve!

First of all I want to thank you for the chance you give to all people outside there with your Daily Inspirations.

I’d like to show my pictures in your website so I’ve attached you some of them. The number one is a real boxer, he is a friend of mine and I shooted him before his last fight. The second one is in my hometown (Oviedo – Spain) and he’s probably the youngest street artist I’ve ever met. And the third picture is a drawer in Midtown Manhattan, I lived in NYC for a while and I did some street photography. I use to work with a tiny Yashica T3 and Kodak Tri-x, dveloping w/ D76 at home and then scanning them with an Epson v700 but for the first picture I used a Nikon FE2 with a 50mm f1.8. I keep shoooting film because I think it gives me better results.

You also can see my portfolio: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fonsecades/

I hope you enjoy my pictures.

Thanks so much.

Warm regards.

Alfonso Secades.

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