May 172011

New Full Featured Forums Now Up!

Visit The New Forums!

I just installed brand new forum software that is jam packed with features and much more stable than the previous forum I had online. The new forums offer all kinds of new features like image uploads, PM, RSS, facebook and twitter promotion, and much more so be sure to check it out and start posting! The old forum is no longer available or active as it was causing some issues with the site. So, be sure to check out the new forums and get involved!

No need to re-register! If you registered in the past just log in with your same user/pass.

May 152011

Finally, I Added My Portfolio Pages!

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


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

May 132011

Re-Visiting the Leica 50 Summitar lens on the M9

By Steve Huff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and one I shot about 6 months ago…

Looking for the swirl! Can you see it?

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

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

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

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

As always, click images for larger versions!


May 132011
(MORE X100! Feels like X100 mania around here lately! But here is yet ANOTHER user report on the hottest camera of the year SO FAR- Steve)

A word or two on the Fuji FinePix X100 camera from a repentant skeptic

by Greg Shanta

I used to be somewhat skeptical about the Fuji X100 ever since I saw the first image samples published by Fuji on their site. Then I saw some more samples elsewhere. Neither of those convinced me that the X100 could produce great images, along the lines of what I was used to with my Leica M9 and my wife’s Leica X1. In fact, they’ve convinced me of just the opposite. I am glad to say now that I was wrong!

My opinion started to change when I saw Michael Reichmann’s pictures and read his review. Prior to that I saw Chad Wadsworth’s X100 to X1 comparison and I liked some of his X100 pictures (although I didn’t think his X1 pictures were up to their full potential; so, I thought and still think that review was unfair to the X1: both cameras are equally great in image quality; they are just different in character). And then of course, I read Steve’s review and looked at his images, some of which have really impressed me. So, my opinion of the X100 has shifted from suspicious and on the negative side to fully positive one! On top of all that I had a chance to play with the X100 at a camera shop here in Moscow and my own couple of pictures that I made with it there had hammered the last nail in the coffin of my prejudice. I am cured now — and with the consequences. Read on…

I had a full day out with Fuji X100 yesterday. Not without my encouragement, my wife had sold her X1 (in one-day quick deal and at a $500 profit against what we’ve paid for it in September; kudos to Leica for brand recognition!) and got an X100 instead. So, I took it for a spin.

I must say, I am very impressed with it. Not as much as I am (still!) impressed with my M9 but I find this camera capable of producing outstanding images. It isn’t as intuitive and reliable in focusing and overall operation as the M9 but when you do nail the focus it shines. Sometimes it so shines, it flares… But we’ll talk about that later. Its files are certainly not as good as the M9’s but still, they are fantastic for this kind of camera. Or for most any camera, I am not afraid to say now.

On top of that, I think it gives a very natural look to its files, which I think I now prefer over the X1’s in terms of character. Although, it’s all subjective I am sure that both cameras are equally great when it comes to image IQ. Their character is different and I think i like the Fuji files better now. Ergonomically, alas, Leica X1 lags way behind… But my crystal ball (and yes, I do have one, too!) tells me that they will catch up very soon. In fact, I think they already did but they still have to sell those remaining X1s, don’t they? Just my ‘crystal-ball’ opinion… Not to be taken seriously.

I prefer RAW to Jpeg with this camera. With X1 is was the opposite with B/W files and the same with the colour ones. The X100 out of camera B/W Jpegs are awful I think. I am a great lover of B/W photography and I think this camera is incapable of a decent Jpeg output in this category, at least with its current firmware. The X1 was spot on perfect! I still can’t match it’s great B/W look in my PP no matter how much I try. With X100, in my case, it’s RAW only, both for B/W and colour. Lightroom (surprisingly to me) seems to be doing a decent job on X100 file conversion, so it’s a no issue. I always shoot RAW, anyway.

What I hate about the X100 is the autofocus. I hate it in general, not related to a specific camera. But while most cameras provide reliable manual focusing systems on top of their autofocus ones, the X100 doesn’t and that’s what drives me mad. I mean, it’s fast enough (way faster than X1’s) but it’s quite inaccurate. At least in my limited experience. I remember Seal mentioning the same problem and how it was fixed by a firmware update but I haven’t tried that yet.

Fortunately, there is a sort of workaround — using the AFL button plus manual fine tuning — but it’s cumbersome and unintuitive. Besides, you have to use the EVF to see your focusing results and the EVF is not that accurate for reliable focusing, so you have to magnify. Too much hustle to do a simple thing! With a proper rangefinder you don’t even think about focusing: it’s all automatic, much like driving a car.

What is it with Fuji and Leica lately? The reliable manual focusing capability should have been provided out of the box with this type of camera at this type of price point and I hope Fuji will fix that with future firmware updates (as Leica did, albeit not terribly well, with the X1; I hope Fuji will do better!).

Another annoying thing is that the filter ring keeps unscrewing when I use the MF ring as they are tightly adjacent, so they affect each other when either of them is moved. Out of frustration, I am thinking of glueing mine to the lens barrel. But then I won’t be able to use filters and, most importantly, the lens hood. And that takes us to another important issue…

The X100 lens flares like hell! An inexcusable flaw when it comes to modern lens design. I don’t know how much the lens hood will help the situation because I don’t want to shell out another couple hundred bucks for an add-on accessory, which should have been included for free, taken the said problem that Fuji must be well aware of. I hope they will come to their senses and offer a free lens hood to all customers, both new and old. Much like Apple did with bump cases when their iPhone 4 had antenna issues. I seriously hope so! This is bad design coupled with bad marketing. Needs to be fixed once and for all! Just put the lens hood in the box, Fuji, and forget about it!

Apart from these two issues (plus a couple of minor ones) I see no other problem with this otherwise great camera. The image quality is outstanding, the hybrid viewfinder is great and should be included in all similar cameras. I think it probably will be the case in the future. It’s just too good to ignore. Fuji has definitely set a trend there.

Couple of other annoying things I mentioned are as follows: 1) having to dig in the menus for some quick things like AF mode, ND filter, Auto ISO, external flash control, etc.; 2) awkward handling for big hands: no place to rest your thumb, etc.; 3) slow start up time. Well, numbers 1 and 3 can be fixed in firmware and number 2 is not that big of a deal.

The bottom line is: it’s a great little camera with great image capability and most of it’s problems seem fixable in firmware. I think it’s a winner! Now Leica has to come up with something even better to finally confuse us all and turn us into constant camera buying zombies. As if we aren’t there already…

Now, let’s get to the pictures. First, I want you to see the last one I took yesterday. Due to controlled lighting you can see what the camera is capable of in the studio. It isn’t a good studio camera by far but in case you need to make an image that requires a studio setup, you can do so with the Fuji X100.

The reason I wanted you to see the “studio” file first is because I wanted you to know that this camera is capable of sharp and contrasty images. I don’t want you to look at the rest of my real life street pictures from a sharpness perspective since I was still getting used to the camera and struggled with trying to figure out how the AF and MF work. Besides, sharpness is a bourgeoisie concept…

Then I want to show you the flare problem. It is humongous! Unexplainable and unbelievable! Some of the flare shots can be used artistically, though, but it’s no excuse.

Then I will leave you with the rest of the images. If you would like to see more, you are always welcome to visit my Flickr page at

All of the images seen here have been post processed to my taste. The “studio” shot above is almost “as is” with default LR RAW conversion, a tiny bit exposure boost, and a little trim from top and bottom. With controlled lighting you don’t need much PP, anyway. By the way, X100’s Auto White Balance is fantastic! Way better than M9’s…

May 112011

OK guys, here you go! Decided that since the Fuji X100 has been so popular, and because I get so many e-mails on it asking me about the “quirks” that I would write up a list of the top 7 complaints on the camera (from users and reviews, not necessarily ME), and what I do to get around them (well, they are not really issues for me in the first place as you will soon see).

So in this brief article I will list out the quirks and imperfections of the X100, and then tell you how I overcome and work with each issue. This is spurred from seeing a reviewer today who said to forget about buying the Fuji, mainly because of the menu button. Odd. This camera has so much going for it with so much potential that anyone who skips out on it due to the small (or is it?) menu button will be missing out on a fantastic photographic tool that not only looks cool, but takes some amazing quality images.

Am I saying that the Fuji is for everyone? NO way! Many will want to skip it just due to the fact that it is not really their style of camera. It doesn’t have blazing fast DSLR AF, it doesn’t “Zoom” and no, it does not have the ability to change lenses. These are the reasons I LOVE IT, but some of you will hate it for these same reasons. Anyway, enjoy this rundown of the X100 Quirks :)

Ok…first things first – The small menu button

USER Complaint #1: The Menu Button is TOO small. I agree with what everyone here has said about the menu button, it sure does appear to be too small. It seems when you press the menu button that you are also pressing the jog wheel as well. The menu button itself is not  raised out enough from the jog wheel so it just feels like you are pushing the whole wheel in with the menu button. This is what most of the reviewers are saying about the button.

In USE/Solution: The Menu Button Is Not Really An Issue. In actual USE of the Fuji X100, when the camera is on and you are taking photos, the menu button works just fine! Try it! Turn it on, press the menu button and you will see the menu screen pop on. I looked at the menu buttons, side by side next to the X100 from the Olympus XZ-1, the Panasonic GH2 and also the GF2 and guess what? The X100 menu button is LARGER than the GH2 and XZ-1 and just about the same size as the one on the GF2. Again, it’s not that the button is too small, it is that it does not stick out enough from the wheel so it “feels” small. In real use, the button works perfectly fine. For me it does anyway. Never caused an issue which is why it wasn’t brought up in my review. It worked and continues to work. For me anyway. SO once again, the button and the jog wheel work fine and dandy for me and my hands.

How about the slow start up time?

USER Complaint #2: Startup time is insanely slow. When I received my X100 and powered it on I was freaking out a bit I think it took like 10 seconds to start up! I immediately regretted the purchase. There were times when I though the camera had froze up when I started it but in reality, it was just taking forever to start. It was unacceptable.

The SOLUTION: Startup time can be almost instant! I decided to buy a super fast SD card for the X100, hell, I bought two, one for my M9 and one for the X100. I bought these Sandisk Extreme Pro cards, the 16GB version. THEY ALSO COME IN 32GB.  Sandisk says that they are waterproof, shockproof, and X-Ray proof. They also write data at up to 45MBPS so they are pretty speedy. Once put in the camera I was still seeing slow startup times, UNTIL I formatted the card in the camera. I then turned ON “Quick Start Mode’ in the settings menu. Now it takes less than 1 second to turn on. Its actually just about instant. So if you have an X100 and are suffering from slow start up times, buy one and format it in the camera. Not only will your start up times be quick, your write times will improve as well.

You may have to format each time though, which is odd and quirky.

OK…what else? Hmmmm. Inaccurate Auto Focus.

USER Complaint #3: The AF is not accurate most of the time. This CAN be correct, if you are using the Optical View Finder. After using both the EVF and OVF I would not go back to the OVF full time as it is just not accurate with the AF of  the camera in MANY situation. If you are shooting anything up close, forget it. Your shot will be out of focus when using the OVF. I am talking 1-3 feet distances, and in many cases, the AF confirm will pop up and the camera will focus way behind the subject (when using OVF and shooting CLOSE). The OVF is nice and bright and I have used it for landscape shots and it did great, but anything at close distance, forget it! It took me a few days to figure this one out.

The SOLUTION: Use the EVF for close subjects. I use the EVF 90% of the time, and believe it or not, it uses LESS battery than the OVF. The EVF is plenty good, so I would recommend using it unless you are taking shots of something at a distance, which is where the OVF will be OK. Just remember that when using the OVF, you must frame within the frame lines, and they are not 100% accurate! BTW, my camera is NOT defective. Had TWO of them here, both USA production cameras – both gave me the same results.

Macro? What macro?

USER Complaint #4. Macro – I have seen at least one review complain that there is no macro on the X100. Well, no, you are not going to get the macro performance of a specialized Macro DSLR Lens but you can get much closer to your subject than you may think. There IS a macro mode accessible with a left click of the jog wheel.

The SOLUTION: Use the EVF, in MF mode and use  the AFL button to focus. I found that when using manual focus mode, combined with the EVF you can get pretty close to your subjects. Closer than using the OVF (forget about close ups with the OVF, remember) and you do not even need to switch on the macro mode to do so. It’s really easy to do and you can get semi close. Still, this is no real “Macro”, just a way to get closer than you normally can.

Low Light AF. Daytime AF. No good?

USER Complaint #5 – Low light Auto Focus Performance is not so hot and day time AF is slow. The low light comment is somewhat true, but in my experience, the light has to be pretty damn low for this to happen. I was sitting on my couch the other night, in the dark, with the only light source coming from my TV. I had the GF2, GH2, and the X100 on the table. I picked up each one and tried to AF on my foot. None could do it. I turned on a small 40 watt lamp and ALL could do it. I found that the low light AF, in reality, is no worse than the GF2, GH2, or Leica X1. Plus, I was not even using the AF assist light as I have my X100 in silent mode. Turn this off and you will have access to the AF assist light. As for daytime AF, its pretty speedy. DO NOT compare it to a DSLR and you will be just fine. Compare it to cameras like the Oly E-P2, Leica X1, GF1, etc. I have no complaints about daytime AF. This is not a sports camera, an action camera or a let’s chase my kids around camera. For those activities, buy a DSLR.

The SOLUITION for low light AF: Turn of Silent mode and use the AF assist light if you are shooting in near blackness. AF is plenty fast in good light.

Limited Shutter Speeds when wide open?

USER Complaint #6 – The X100 shutter speed is limited to 1/1000s when shooting at F2. This is 100% true! When shooting at f2, your max shutter speed is 1/1000s. What does this mean? It means if you want to shoot in full sun at f/2 to get the soft bokeh and creamy look, you can’t! (But you still can) – The Ricoh GXR had this same limitation at f/2 and it is due  to the lenses using Leaf Shutters, which is why they are so silent. Luckily, Fuji added a feature to the X100 that allows you to shoot in full sun, at 1/1000s.

The SOLUTION – Turn on the built in ND filter. Then you can shoot all day long in full bright mid day sun at f/2 is you so desire. Indoors, 1/1000s is plenty fast if you want to shoot wide open. Me, I set my Fn button that sits on top of the camera to control the ND filter on/off toggle. This way, when I am out in the blazing sun, I just switch on the ND filter and I can shoot at any aperture I want to!

Manual Focus SUCKS with the X100

USER Complaint #7 – The Fuji X100’s Manual Focus is unusable. All I can say about this is YES IT IS. I hate it, but luckily, this could be fixed via a firmware update. Will they fix it? Only time will tell but I am fine using a camera like this in AF mode. It is NOT a rangefinder camera and if I want to shoot manual, I will shoot with my M. But yes, the MF implementation is horrible with the X100 but there is a solution if you still want to shoot in this way.

The Solution: Use the AFL button when you can not seem to dial in the focus manually. When in MF mode, you can turn the lens barrel to focus but it will take about 20 turns of the ring to get you there sometimes. Painfully slow, and it is even hard to see when your subject is in focus. BUT if you must shoot this way, and if you are having problems finding focus, a quick press of the AFL button will whip it right into focus. Easy!

So there you go. The 7 main complaints that reviewers and shooters have worried about…explained. Will Fuji release a firmware update to fix the manual focus/ I have no idea but my gut tells me that they are working on one right now to fix a few things like speed, manual focus, etc. I did not mention the video and the fact that you can not change the aperture or use manual focus while recording but you can set the aperture before you press record and manual focus beforehand as well to avoid the camera hunting for focus when your subject moves. That can also be changed with a FW update. If any of the quirks above bother you, then you should probably skip the camera. If you can live with them, like the thousands of others who are already shooting this camera, then go for it! The image quality is fantastic and the Fuji colors really can’t be found anywhere else. Amazon is the only one I know who is taking pre-orders and shipping every few days. You can pre-order HERE.

May 102011

The Forums Are Going To Get A Major Improvement SOON!

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

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

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

My Crystal Ball

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

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

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

The Olympus XZ-1 arrives…

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

Using the “Dramatic Tone” filter…

and my old fave, the Grainy B&W Filter

More from the Fuji X100

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

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

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

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

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

May 102011

Different Lights, Different Lens

By Hao Hen Chen

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

The Photographs – different lights and different lens

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

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

Above: Blue Mosque from Ground Up

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

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

Above: Donkeys at Santorini

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

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

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

Above: Ali Ahmet Celebi Cami from the Galata Bridge

Above: Boy Climbing from the Roof of a Church

Above: Blue Mosque from the Tram Station

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

Above: Bus Terminal at Galata Bridge

ABove: Galata Bridge and Yeni Cami

Above: Yeni Cami at Dusk

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

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

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

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

Above: Elderly Lady Walking Past the Blue Mosque

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

Above: Beggar at Yeni Cami

Above: Man at Yeni Cami

Above: Pigeons at Yeni Cami

Above: Boys Kicking Tin Can

Above: Man and Anchor (stopover at Dubai)

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

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

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

For more photographs, please visit our website at

May 092011

Hi Steve,

I’m a daily reader of your site. I love the articles, daily inspirations & reviews!

Last November, after reading an article on your site, I ditched my Canon DSLR & Lenses for a Sony NEX-3. An M9 would have been ideal, but I have more of a Sony budget rather than a Leica budget :) I take more photos now than ever before. The size of the Sony is really convenient, and I find myself taking the NEX along with me much more often than I ever had before.

I have the 18-55 & 16mm kit lenses, but I prefer the half-dozen manual focus lenses I’ve collected over the years. I have several Canon FD lenses, a yashica 50mm, and last but not least, my favorite, an Industar 69 (photo attached). I had to modify the Industar 69 a little to get it to focus properly. I used this site as a reference: The only thing I did differently was to remove one of the focus stops completely. This allows the lens to focus much closer, about 14″ or so.

I just returned home from a vacation in Europe (Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dublin & Nuremberg). Although I took hundreds of photos over there, here’s a link to just a few shots that I really like:

Anyway, just thought I’d thank you for what you do. Your approach to photography & this website has inspired me to spend more time shooting, and to have more fun while doing it!

-Scott Sarber

May 092011

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

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

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


Saturday July 23rd

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

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

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

–       9:15-10:30: Group Introductions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, July 24th

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

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

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

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

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

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

–       3-5 pm: PM stroll at Discovery Park

o   Beautiful nature site worth spending some time at

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

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

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


Possible Photo Strolls

–       Downtown stroll (Pikes Place, Pioneer Square)

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

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

–       Kerry Park (early AM or sunset)

–       Graffiti wall and urban walk

–       Alki Beach

–       Seattle Public Library stroll

–       Sculpture Garden and waterfront

–       Out of Seattle, into nature

–       Golden Gardens at Sunset (beach, mountain views)

–       Ferry trip to Bainbridge island

–       The Piers where the Ferries take off



May 082011


Leica will host experiential workshops in 16 North American cities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boston, MA – August 12, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

Calgary, AB, Canada – July 16, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience with Todd Korol

Chicago, IL – August 6, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

Santa Barbara, CA – July 9, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

Santa Barbara, CA – July 10, 2011

Leica Compact Camera Photography

Los Angeles, CA – October 14-16, 2011

Leica Weekend : Featuring Craig Semetko

Miami, FL – December 9-11, 2011

Leica Weekend

Minneapolis, MN – August 20, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

New York, NY – September 22, 2011

Leica Street Photography

New York NY – October 26, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

New York, NY – September 16-18, 2011

Leica Weekend

Portland, OR – August 17, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

Salt Lake City, UT – October 5, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

Salt Lake City, UT – October 6, 2011

Leica Digital B&W Photography

San Francisco, CA – July 28, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

San Francisco, CA – July 29, 2011

Leica Compact Camera Photography

San Francisco, CA – September 16-18, 2011

Leica Weekend

Seattle, WA – August 20, 2011

Leica Street Photography

Toronto, ON, Canada – July 22, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

Toronto, ON, Canada – July 23, 2011

Leica Digital Black and White Photography

Vancouver, BC, Canada – September 9, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

Vancouver, BC, Canada – September 10, 2011

Leica Compact Camera Photography

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

Leica Weekend : Featuring Quinton Gordon

Washington, DC – November 4, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

Washington, DC – November 5, 2011

Leica Street Photography

May 062011

Hi Steve,

Attached is a pic for your consideration for your Daily Inspiration posts.

I took it in Austin, Texas, when we were on holiday there. Maybe fittingly, it was taken the day after I heard Elliott Erwitt speak on the local university campus.

My daughter, Emily, loves dancing and music. She saw the fiddler and asked me for a dollar so she could “buy a dance”. She danced for about five minutes and he must have made $20-30. People thought she was part of the act and just kept on pouring dollars into his instrument case.

The “Rhythm and Blu” sign was serendipity as Emily was wearing a blue dress. I had to covert the file to black and white though because of the distracting colour of one of the T-shirts worn by one of girls walking by.

The shot was taken on a Canon 5DII using a 24mm lens.

Warm regards,



May 062011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 062011

Is the Yashica Electro the best deal in rangefinder photography?

by Ricky Opaterny


Eight years ago, I shot with a Leica for the first time and immediately found the experience to be photographically unparalleled. Although I longed for an M7, my budget at the time could only accommodate a used R body, an old 50mm Summicron-R lens, and an even older 28mm Elmarit. Nearly seven years later in 2010, my budget still was not really a match for an M7, but I decided to get one, anyway, along with a 50mm Summicron-M in a deal that was too good to pass up.

Oftentimes, online discussion of camera gear frames the equipment as a tool to accomplish an objective, the instrument used to realize a vision. And while that is true, I find that much of photography for me is about the experience of taking photos, and the gear you use can make that experience more or less enjoyable‚ more or less inspired, more or less memorable. There are few regular experiences in life that I find more enjoyable than that of looking through the viewfinder of my M7 and hearing the kiss of the shutter release.

So, why would I ever bother with another camera, especially one made with a darker viewfinder and focusing patch, a comparatively inferior fixed lens, and an aperture priority system that doesn’t even let you know what shutter speed you’re using without full manual controls that requires a battery no longer produced? Why would I get a camera from a seller who couldn’t even tell me if it worked? Why, in short, would I bother buying a Yashica Electro 35?

There are two reasons: 1) I found the sample images I saw online be excellent for a $20 camera and 2) How can you possibly go wrong on a $20 camera with a 45mm f/1.7 lens that isn’t completely awful? Yes, f/1.7 in Leica terms is halfway between a Summnicron and a Summilux. A Summicrux, perhaps?

(I should note that there are several old, film rangefinders available with nice, fast, prime lenses. These include, among several others, the Canon Canonet QL17, the Konica Auto S2, and the Yashica IC Lynx 14E.)



The Yashica Electro 35 rangefinder comes in four different variations: the GS, the GSN, the GT, and the GTN. The differences between these cameras, produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s include color‚ black vs. chrome‚ and hot shoe vs. without hot shoe. But with an f/1.7 lens, you shouldn’t worry about having a flash, and the differences between the variations are negligible.

Obtaining a Yashica Electro seems to be no problem; there are several available on eBay at all times. Finding one that works, however, is slightly, but not much, more difficult. Because the Yashica takes a mercury battery that is no longer made, most sellers are unable to test the function of the meters on these cameras. Fortunately, my friends and I have purchased five of these cameras and three of them had meters that worked out of the box. Two of them required minor repairs.

To test a camera, you first need a six-volt battery, because the original battery was longer than this six-volt battery, you’ll need something to conduct electricity from the battery to the contacts. An elegant solution is this battery adapter. You get two for $9.49. If you want to spend next to nothing, make a cylinder out of aluminum foil and use it to connect the battery to the contact.

The most common problem with these cameras is corrosion on the contacts. Use a Q-Tip with vinegar to clean them. The other problem we encountered involved a wire from the battery compartment whose connection to the circuit board had broken‚ nothing a little soldering couldn’t fix.

Once you have the meter working, even if it requires no work, you may want to remove the top plate, anyway, to clean out the viewfinder windows. Removing the top plate is also the first step to any wiring repairs that the camera may need. The Yashica Guy site contains for this procedure and several other common repairs.

I said this camera was cheap, not easy. However, based on our small sample, the odds are that your camera won’t require any work at all. So, let’s move on to the features.

I mentioned the 45mm f/1.7 Yashinon lens, which is excellent for the cost. It has an aperture ring that goes from f/1.7 to f/2.0 and then in full stops to f/16. Of course, there is a focusing ring and depth of field scale. The minimum focusing distance is 0.8 meters, or about 2.6 feet. There’s also a mode dial to switch between automatic aperture priority mode, bulb mode, and flash sync mode.

There is no manual mode. Most of your time will be spent in aperture priority mode. You set the aperture on the lens and the camera picks the shutter speed automatically based on the aperture, meter reading, and ISO setting. You can set the ISO from 25 to 1000, and the ISO dial also provides a way, albeit an inelegant one, to compensate for the meter reading.

The shutter is a wonderful, stepless, quiet leaf shutter whose sound some of you might even prefer to those on your fancier cameras. It maxes out at 1/500 second at the fast end and can deliver shutter speeds up to four minutes long at f/16 at the slow end.



On the top of the camera, you’ll find two lights that correspond to two equivalent lights in the viewfinder. One is labeled “slow,” which means that the lighting conditions require a shutter speed below 1/30 of a second. It’s just a warning for you, if you’re handholding the camera. The other light is labeled “over,” which, predictably means the metered shutter speed is faster than 1/500 second. You can still shoot at 1/500 second, but the camera is warning you that you may be overexposing the shot.

SLR users are used to being able to see metering information in the LCD displays on the top of their camera bodies, but this is a foreign concept to users of M-mount rangefinders, who bring their cameras to their eyes to get a meter reading. That is, unless you’re using an external or hotshoe-mounted meter, such as the Leica Meter MR.

This is a feature I thought useless at first but now find convenient. I can check to make sure I’m within the correct aperture range for a given lighting condition without raising the camera to my eye. So, when I see a scene that I want to capture and bring my camera to my eye, all I need to do is focus, frame, and release the shutter.

As for the rangefinder, it’s not as bright as one on a Leica, but it’s also not too bad. Focusing is very easy in a yellow diamond, split-image focusing patch in the center of the viewfinder. Out of all the Yashicas I’ve tried, not one had a misaligned focusing patch. The 45mm bright lines are bright and the viewfinder’s magnification, I would guess, is around 0.8x.

I tried to take a photo through the viewfinder. It did not work out so well, but you can see that the frame lines are bright.

Film loads normally and easily after you open the back door and rewinds via a release on the bottom and a standard rewind knob on the top of the body. This all sounds fine, but the real questions are: What is it like to use this camera? And what kind of results does it produce?

It took a while to get used to the limited shutter speed range. I always seem to want to shoot at f/4 or f/5.6, but I often found myself having to shoot at f/11 with this camera, especially at ISO 400.

The first roll I shot was Kodak Ektar 100, which requires fairly precise metering, close to that required by a slide film. I’m happy to report that the Yashica’s meter did an excellent job. Sure, there were some backlit situations that it misread, but that’s a mistake that almost any meter would make‚Äîcertainly any simple, reflective non-TTL meter like the one in the Yashica.

Headlands Center for the Arts

Headlands Center for the Arts

Framing with the viewfinder is accurate‚ it’s parallax corrected and focusing poses no problems for anyone who is used to handling a rangefinder camera. Coincidence is not difficult to spot. Even at f/1.7 and close distances, I found the rangefinder alignment to be accurate. If I missed focus on any of the shots, it was my own error that caused it. Have I mentioned how quiet the shutter is? I have. Nonetheless, it is very, very quiet. My only complaint is that it’s too easy to accidentally fire the shutter when you’re just trying to activate the meter.


Bokeh at f/1.7

Bokeh at f/1.7. The lens becomes noticeably sharper at f/2.8.


The lens, which was the main attraction of this camera, performs quite well. It vignettes slightly but not unattractively at all apertures. Wide open, it produces some nice bokeh. However, if you want to shoot wide open outdoors, you should probably invest in a neutral density filter. (It takes 55mm filters.) You may also want to get a hood because this lens flares easily. Unlike the vignetting, I can’t say that the flare is attractive. It often takes on the pentagon shape of the aperture. It looks as if someone drew a semi-transparent pentagon on your photo. In other words, the transition from flare to no flare is not, in any way, gradual.


One of the few times the lens flare didn’t look hideous

However, under most conditions, the lens gives a nice vintage look and a pleasing bokeh. I can’t say that the Yashica will replace my M7, but it’s certainly a fun little camera. And I’ve never carried a camera that elicited more comments from passers-by. Many people asked me what kind of a camera I was carrying. One man told me he had just bought one for himself. A woman at one of the trendiest restaurants in the city asked me, “Is that a Yashica? My father gave me one of those. It takes great pictures!”

Even if it’s not a conversation starter, changing equipment for a day can be inspiring or at least compel you to just go out shoot. I don’t know of a camera with a better quality to price ratio than the Yashica Electro with which to do so.

Ricky Opaterny is a writer who dabbles in photography in Paris, San Francisco, and New York. He occasionally maintains a bloga photo blog, and a collection of things he likes, many of which are related to photography. He collected some photos from France in a book.

May 052011

Hey Steve,

I’m a longtime reader of your site and have finally decided to make my first submission.

I chose to send you these three photos principally to show your readers the versatility of the M9. Whether I’m shooting street, fashion, portraiture or even party snaps, the M9 performs flawlessly each and every time. This camera has literally changed my life. I can’t emphasize that enough.

All photos were taken with my M9 and (I believe) a Voigtlander 35 f/1.4 (the horse may have been with a 50mm Zeiss but I’m unsure).

Photo 1 – Horse: I found this guy deep in a teak farm while traveling through Costa Rica. I’ve since made a 40×60 print of it and the quality is incredible.

Photo 2 – Guitarist: I was doing a behind-the-scenes type shoot of this musician’s music video in Central Park when it suddenly started to absolutely piss rain. He had a crowd of people following him as we escaped and I was lucky enough to snap him crossing the street.

I should also mention that at this point in time my camera was entirely soaked. I had the fear Steve. I saw my investment crumble before my eyes and was terrified that my little rangefinder would drown. It didn’t. Snap snap snap, wipe wipe, snap snap snap. It never faltered once. I once even dropped mine in the mud around the Omaha Beach landing site in Normandy. I picked it up, gave if wipe, and off I went. Just incredible for a camera with little or no weather sealing.

Photo 3 – Zuza: This photo shows what you can do with the loathed SF 24D flash and an off-camera cord. The amount of hatred for this little flash across the various Leica forums is incredible given its real-world results. It’s lightweight and it works. Even Seal agrees. I use mine as often as I can.

Thanks for taking the time to review my submissions and please keep up the great work.

-David Reeve

© 2009-2015 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

Skip to toolbar