Oct 012015


Leica is not just for Street

by Jesus

Hey Steve , love your website. I’ve sent you a few images in the past but never submitted any so here goes…

I recently had surgery for a torn adductor muscle so I’ve had time to do a little web surfing.

Funny thing most articles I’ve read  on the old inter web insist Leica rangefinders are strictly to be used as street photography instruments.

Apparently I didn’t get the memo. I’m a machinist by trade and I think that’s what drew me to the Leica M. I’ve been fortunate enough to own a dozen M bodies and 3 R bodies and around 50 lenses.


And I’ve never shot street photography.

I’m also amused by the comments that only dentist and doctors used Leica’s so here’s a few images that I’ve been fortunate enough to shoot with friends and live in muses

First Two Images

Leica M9 50 MM Asph



Amber Leica M8 75 APO



M9 50 Lux


And finally
Live in muse and friend

Leica M7
50 Lux
Agfa 100 APX


Abrazos ~ Jesus

Sep 302015

A Hot Summer in Rome

by Massimiliano Tiberi

Dear Steve how are you!

I am here in Rome waiting for the autumn looking back at what I shot this summer and I would like to share with you all my roll of film done with the Leica M2 and a great Tri-X. So refreshing to shot with a so simple camera.

Rome in August can be very hot and the city is a bit empty and lonely but so interesting because something that is hidden became more visible. The people in Rome are so incredibly surrounded by masterpieces that sometimes you forget the living ones to focus on what was done by the ancient inhabitant of this city.

Something of the beauty of this city is fading away so do not miss the chance to visit soon.

more if you like there : http://blog.massimilianotiberi.com/rome-in-an-empty-summer/

I wish you can enjoy :-)










Sep 292015

The Sony A7R (Mk 1) in Japan

by Michael Morris

Dear Steve and Brandon:

I have been reading your site daily for the last few years and have enjoyed reading your reviews and guest posts. I started my venture into the mirrorless world from Nikon with the purchase of the Leica M9 and 3 Leica M lenses in 2010. I tried micro four thirds and APS –C sensors and came to the conclusion that I am a full frame shooter. Over the last year I made some changes in my list of cameras. I sold my Olympus OMD–EM5, my Fujifilm XT-1, and my Leica M9. I now have a Nikon D800E, which I use for portrait work and sports, and a Sony A7R which I use for travel or when I want to travel light. I am anxiously waiting for my A7Rii to ship.

I recently traveled to Japan and brought my Sony A7R with the Sony/Zeiss FE 55mm f 1.8, Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm f 1.4, Leica M 90 mm f 2.0 APO, Leica Super-Elmer 21 mm f 3.4 (borrowed), and my Nikkor G 14-24 mm f 2.8. I strongly considered purchasing the Sony/Zeiss FE 16-35mm for the trip. In the end I decided to bring the Nikkor zoom despite its size, and use something that I already owned. I used Novoflex adapters for both the Leica and Nikkor lenses.

Here are some sample photos.

Shibuya Crossing – Sony A7R with Nikkor G 14-24 mm f 2.8 ISO 200 1/250 sec


Sumo Wrestling Close shot – Sony A7R with Leica M 90 mm f 2.0 APO – ISO 1600 1/640 sec f 3.4


Sumo wrestling – Wide shot – Sony A7R with Leica Super-Elmer 21 mm f 3.4 – ISO 1600 1/100 sec f 3.4


Leica Store Tokyo – Sony A7R with Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 200 1/100 sec f 5.6


Mount Fuji taken from the Shinkansen Nozomi at 170 mph Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 200 – 1/200 sec f 4.0


Lobby of Ritz Carlton Kyoto –Sony A7R with Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 200 1/4000 sec f 2.0


Maiko – Sony A7R with Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 6400 1/250 f 4.0


Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion) Kyoto – Sony A7R with Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 400 1/640 sec f 4.0


Michael Morris MD

Ocala, Florida USA

Sep 282015

Traveling Light – Big Fun with little cameras!

By Rob McKay

Hi Steve and Brandon, as always great work on the site! I love these tiny pocket cameras so figured I would submit some snaps from them to your fine website.

Ricoh GR

This has to be my all time favourite pocket camera. I love the ergonomics of it, the size is perfect, the layout in my opinion is also perfect. Keeping the body clean, and the lack of external dials, buttons and knobs means I rarely screw up a shot due to something getting moved or switched on or off.
A few snaps with Ricoh balancing on some rocks.



Sony RX100 III

Another awesome pocketable camera, and after looking at a few snaps I made with it, I am kind of missing it. Tiny powerhouse of a camera, but I ended up selling it because it was cutting into my Ricoh time. But thinking I might need the IV!



Sony a6000 + E 16mm 2.8

Obviously the a6000 is a system camera, but it is pocketable as long as you have the right lens on it. In this case the cheapo 16mm.




Rob McKay – https://www.flickr.com/photos/caughtintheair/

Sep 242015


The Sony RX1R around the world

by Dick Hoebee

Hello Steve,

The subject of this write-up is the magnificent Sony RX1R and some of the places I’ve taken it so far. Every photo you see here was shot in RAW and edited in Adobe Lightroom.

Positive points and general comments

Going to New Zealand was something I wanted to do for a very long time, and in late 2013 I finally had the means and time to do it. My trusty Canon Eos 450D was becoming unreliable after five years of heavy use, and I took this opportunity to go out and get a new camera. The logical choice would be a new Canon, as I had accumulated two nice lenses and a great flash. Mostly thanks to the raving reviews on this site, I checked out the Sony RX1R as well, and ended up buying it, to my own surprise.


It was either this camera, or an EOS 5D Mk. III. That’s not an easy choice to make, but I’m ultimately glad I went with the Sony. I was a little anxious about limiting myself to one lens, especially for the monumental price tag that the camera has (I bought it when it just came out, too), but that turned out to be unwarranted, as I never enjoyed a camera more than this thing.


New Zealand was the maiden voyage of the RX1R for me, and boy was I glad I took the plunge before going. This country has many sights that are truly awe-inspiring, and I recommend anyone visiting it at least once in their lifetime. I felt very small there many times. It is a humbling, unforgettable experience.


Besides the incredible image quality of this camera, I absolutely love this thing for its size and weight (or rather, the lack thereof). It is also built like a tank, which gives confidence to carry it all over the place. And I do. Because it’s so easy to take everywhere, I take it everywhere. I left my EOS 450D at home many times when I shouldn’t have, because I didn’t feel like lugging it around, and that’s even a small DSLR. Another advantage about its size is that it is an unintimidating camera to subjects. When you point a big, professional-looking camera with a large lens at people, they sometimes get self-conscious. The RX1R looks more like a cool-looking hobby-camera than the full-frame monster that it is. The shutter is completely silent, too. Most people have no idea what it is (including those who have nice cameras themselves), and some even think it is an analog camera. An older gentleman I met commented that it looked like his Leica M6.






At low to medium ISO settings, photos are incredibly clean. That said, the high ISO performance of this camera is one of the reasons I fell in love with it. I can take it out at night, and take hand-held shots without having to use flash in pretty much any situation. The results are great, and photos still look alive and punchy at ISO 6400 and even 12800. Things naturally get more grainy once the ISO goes up, but it’s nice-looking grain, almost film-like. I leave luminance noise-reduction completely off in Lightroom. With a tripod and long exposure + low ISO, it really shines, too.

I use the RX1R for landscapes, portraits, and as a walk-around camera. The dynamic range is really something else, and it’s possible to achieve some amazing results. Colors are wonderful, and black & white is rich and deep. It’s easy to pull tons of detail out of shadows and highlights, and I’ve never felt the need to pull tricks like multiple exposure HDR. RAW files have an incredible amount of headroom. After having owned and used the RX1R for two years, I still get blown away every singe time I load the files in Lightroom. The image quality is absolutely staggering, still in 2015.



Settings & usage

I shoot in Aperture Priority (the ring is nice) or Program most of the time, and I use Manual for long exposure shots and stitch-panoramas. The exposure compensation dial on top is a useful tool for quick adjustment. I assigned the little C-button on top to ISO-settings, which I usually leave on auto with a range of 100-6400. Sometimes I lock it when I want to go for a specific look. All 5 buttons are programmable, as well as the four-way buttons under the wheel on the back. I set metering to multi-metering, and it is generally accurate. The auto-focus does a great job most of the time. It sometimes has a little trouble in the dark, but it usually catches what I want after a try or two. I set it to one focus point in the middle. Focus speed isn’t super fast, but fast enough for me.

I never really use the flash (not needed) or video mode (I’m a photographer, not a video guy). The only accessories I have in my bag these days are a GorillaPod and an extra battery. It really feels like everything I need now.




The Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.0 lens is incredibly sharp at every f-stop, and it seems to be at its sharpest at f/5.6 and f/8. The photos are so sharp in fact, that Adobe Lightroom’s default sharpening-setting of 25 is too high and creates harsh edges. Usually I end up setting it around 10-15. Having a 35mm prime lens is easy to get used to, especially when it’s as great as this one. I love primes in general; they force you to get creative and walk around to find a good angle.





The battery-life is not great. I immediately turn the camera off after I’ve taken a shot, and I don’t spend much time reviewing photos already taken. I have an extra battery, but since Sony doesn’t include an external charger (at this price point, I’d say that’s strange), I need to switch them around while the camera is hooked up to charge them. The camera has a standard micro-USB port for file transfer and charging, which means it is compatible with pretty much every standard phone charger out there, which is convenient.




Manual focus is useless without a viewfinder (save for forcing infinity focus), as focus-peaking only works with a magnified view. I don’t know why this is, as the Sony A7 cameras are able to do this on the overview view. Another little quirk is that the camera always returns to infinity focus when it wakes up or turns on. This is something I’d like to be able to lock when I’m waiting to take a shot of something that moves. Both these things are fixable with a firmware update, but Sony doesn’t seem to do those with this camera for some reason.

I miss having an infrared shutter release. That seems like a more logical choice to build into this camera than an external mic-input.

The prices for accessories are ridiculous. I’d like to have the viewfinder (partially because using a circular polarizing filter is almost impossible with the LCD screen), but I’m not paying 500 bucks for that. Even their simple metal lens hood costs 200 bucks (check eBay for knock-offs for 1/10th the price). The only official Sony accessory I bought for it was the leather case. Although that hurt my wallet, I’m glad I got it. It provides good protection, and it really emphasizes the old-school cool look.



I’ve never been this happy about a camera, or any electronic device I’ve ever owned. It is not perfect (no camera really is), but the positives easily outweigh the negatives. The more I use it, the more I love it. The Zeiss lens, overall image quality, build quality and size, make the RX1R nothing less than a masterpiece.

I would probably still love this thing if it gave me an electric shock with every photo I take.

It is that good.

If you liked this write-up and my photos, check out my personal portfolio and blog. I update it constantly.

I also have a Facebook-page. Give me a “Like” and tell your friends, it always helps!

Or, follow me on Twitter if that’s your thing.

I will visit Australia in the near future and many other places after that, so keep an eye on my website and social media pages for new photos soon. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments, I’m always more than happy to talk.

Many thanks again, Steve, for allowing me to send this in. Keep the website going, I enjoy the hell out of it.


Sep 232015

Leaving Mexico City

by Alejandro Ilukewitsch

Hi Steve,

Soon I will be moving out of Mexico and wanted to share with you and your readers some of my pics from my stay in this wonderful country.

Mexico is great city for street photography, people is warm and definitely like their portrait been taken. It’s a huge city, in which it only takes a bit of luck to bump into something interesting to shoot. I focus mostly in street portraits, but also managed to get some other things :).

I used different kinds of cameras Nikon DF, Sony A7ii, and Leica M240. No specific reason for the cameras, I just love all of them :)

Exif data should be intact. Hope your readers enjoy these pics as much as I enjoyed Mexico, and if anyone is thinking of passing through here a few days, please don’t doubt it, you will be surprise how great it could be.

DSC_9732 (1)







L1008370 (1)



L1006586 (2)








Sorry for posting so many :)

More of my pictures can be seen in:


Thanks for looking!

Sep 222015

The Ricoh GR: London & Scotland

by Justin Press


Hello Steve & Brandon,

Further travels with the trusted Ricoh GR (Mark I). Nothing to add to the words and feelings given regarding this little machine. I nearly gave in to the x100T and maybe one day I will but for now still trying to be the best I can with the GR.

London, Scotland and the railway grandeur b/t Victoria and Dundee.







Yes, yes my terrible watermarks are a distraction and my frames are not the best but hey I’m trying to shoot not decorate. Any advise on a watermark would be lovely.




Sep 212015

A night of Post Processing

By Dirk Dom

What a night!

I did ten black and white shots of my San Francisco trip.

At first, I got all crazy about printing big and I wanted drum scans made. Since that, and printing four feet would see me bankrupt, I used my own scans and enjoyed these.

I’ll print 12 x 18 inches, 30 x 45 cm, on Baryta paper. With my own scans I can go to 24 inches, 60 cm at 300 DPI.

This was a night of calm creativity and intense concentration.

Ansel Adams, the greatest printer that ever lived, said: “the negative is the score, the print the performance”. I performed tonight.

I’m deeply grateful I can do this.

The tools I use would make any Photoshop specialist laugh so hard he’d get cramps, but I use them until I can’t make the print any better. I do burning and dodging, a little bit of levels, mainly to check if I reach the black and white limits (ALT key), that’s all. Of course the images need spotting. Photoshop is as refined as you want, no limit.

Usually I have a very vivid idea about the potential of the print and what I want it to become, getting there is usually not difficult but takes lots of time.

Well, here they are, I didn’t include shots of the city because buildings don’t fit in this series.

This one I made very high key to offset the jet black charred stump and the rest of the Redwood forest.


Here I think I got the range of light in the forest.


Another jet black stump.


The bank of a creek in Ukiah. This shot is so sharp you see every thread of moss on the trees. It screams “Enlarge me BIG!!!”


My son.


One afternoon, the clouds were just magic in Ukiah. I was out for hours watching it all evolve.





Finally, I include this city shot, because of the nice sky: San Francisco from Bernal Heights. I think that’s the best view of the city.


I’m so glad that last year I decided to go for film and not for digital black and white. There are always beautiful structures in the negative, often totally unexpected.

Like the cloud in the San Francisco shot:


No way you can get such a thing digitally! (Does Nik software emulate this? I’d like to know) Such structures make a print glow. A print shows this sort of detail, to discover and enjoy.
I think there is nothing more beautiful in photography than fine black and white.

Well, enough.



If it doesn’t look good as a thumbnail, it’s no good.



Sep 182015

Lamborghini and Leica

By Olgun

Hi Steve,

I’ve been reading your site recently and it helped in my decision to go for a Leica M Monochrome, the first generation. I was really nervous about it, having always used DSLR’s. I am an automotive photographer and thus only use those big SLRs with seriously big and heavy lenses. I thought the Leica would be for me and my personal work only.

Well the other day I had a chance to go for a meeting with a client and they had a Lamborghini Huracan in there so I took along my Mono and took some snaps and thought wow, this camera is wonderful at all things, below are some examples I shot all very natural,

I’ve also included a link to my folio which is all my usual commercial editorial work, I’d love to share this sort of story with your readers,













Sep 182015

Photo’s with a Story

By Dirk Dom


When I show people my photographs many ask me what exactly they are seeing. That is a reasonable question, because I shoot quite a lot of abstracts. I generally tell them to appreciate the images on their own grounds. Most people, however, expect photographs to be representative and are not accustomed to having to use their imagination.

I made a booklet which originated as an exercise in playful interpretation of my photos. I picked out about seventy that I particularly liked and challenged myself to create tales inspired by the images. It proved surprisingly difficult. Some of my images seem so simple and have such an impact that I couldn’t think of anything. In some cases I made up stories; in others I wrote down impressions inspired by what I was looking at — what ever came to mind, and sometimes, when the creation of the photo itself was a good story, I shared that too. At random intervals I had left the reader/observer the opportunity to make up a story himself.

This is an excerpt of the book with ten photographs.


The photo above is exercise one. What does it make you think of?

Alien Encounter

A Star Seed floats through space, on its way to the core of the Galaxy to reproduce. Its solar sail is folded up, so far away from any star.

A Guffaw, who normally eats cometary cores, sees the Star Seed as a delightful snack.

The Star Seed reacts to its approach with a giant electric discharge. Intense plasma wires light up in the interstellar medium.

The Guffaw changes its mind and its direction.

The Star Seed floats on, on its journey of millions of years, on track to another star.

With thanks to Larry Niven


Brown Dwarf Life Form

DENIS-P J082303.1-491201 b, part of an ultra cold binary system, has a mass of about 28 Jupiter masses. This brown dwarf is 67.7 light-years or 399 trillion miles from Earth. It was discovered in 2013.

The life which developed there consists of twenty-mile long single-celled organisms (hydrogen filled bubbles made out of polyethylene) who float in the atmosphere and are bioluminescent. These are colonized by photosynthetic organisms. Seemingly there are similarities with the life on Jupiter.

The photograph is made in May, 2144, by the Da Vinci atmospheric probe which flew through a life form, filming, during its descent to the core.

Exploration of brown dwarves is considered a low priority.


Drowning Moth

Beginning of March, 2014, I walked in the Zevenbergen Forest, Ranst.

On the banks of the ditches you can make photographs with lots of contrast, so I walked along the water.

About six feet from shore, this drowning moth. I planned to save it, but first, a quick photograph. A first image without paying attention to composition. Then, this image, with the moth carefully lined up in the dark reflection of a tree. I wanted to take a few more photographs, but the wave pattern the wings made stopped after about five seconds and didn’t start again. I was disappointed. Suddenly I realized the moth was dying and it was finished.

Quickly I looked for a branch, but the only one I found was too short. Pity. The moth no doubt served as a protein rich delicacy to a bird or a frog. It’s a beautiful, but sad shot.

Life is so easily extinguished.


Nuclear blast

I was happily taking shots of forest anemones when World War Three started. The bomb incinerated the Antwerp port at twenty miles distance.

I live, but what good does it do? The anemones bloomed for the last time.



Microvilli (singular: Microvillus, lat. Villus “brushy hair (from animals), wool”) are microscopic protuberances of the cellular membrane which drastically increase the surface of cells. Microvilli are found in the brush border of the small intestine. Because of the large surface macromolecules and ions can be absorbed more easily.

The brush border is the homogeneous layer which is visible at the apical side of the enterocytes (absorbing cells in the small intestine) and the epithelial cells in the proximal tubulus. If this tissue is looked at through a light microscope, one can see that the brush border consists of a great number of very closely stacked microvilli. These microvilli make for a twentyfold increase of the small intestine surface. This increase in surface makes the intake of nourishment much easier.


Me, as a Photographer

This is a fun one.

So I went to take this photograph. At first I wanted to go alone, but I took my sister Nadine along to take the shot.

I hung about ten camera’s around my neck and arranged them in such a way that they showed nicely. But this hopelessly entangled the straps.

After about five minutes the forty pounds of camera started to really hurt and I wanted to take them off.

I couldn’t unknot them. The weight became unbearable. In the end I had to lie down and make my sister disentangle them.

I don’t want to think about what would have happened if I had done this alone.


Love is:
Putting your paws on the eyes of your beloved.



This is how the Daft Punk music looks to Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.

The Visisonor, developed by the University of Antwerp in 2017, translates the impressions of the other senses to a visual signal.

Apple bought the patent.

In 2019 110 million Visisonors were sold, despite the violent price tag.

With Thanks to Isaac Asimov


Second Exercise

Oh, yes, believe it or not, this is a photograph!

I can’t make up any story with this.

Can you?


Well, hope you enjoyed it!

And, my apologies!



Sep 162015

Shooting the streets with my Pentax

by Lukasz

Hi my name is Lukasz. I’m from Poland but I live in Ireland since 2005.

My childhood is a period of communism. That was hard time, and the cameras usually came from the Soviet Union, from our “friends”. When I looked at the photographs when I was young, that was another world, sometimes escape from reality. At the beginning I thought not about to take pictures, I just liked the watch them. Later, after the change of regime when it was already much easier and cameras were available, I lost interest in photography. When I get older I bought my amateur camera, and that was the start of my passion. When I started the adventure of photography I did not think about the lenses or the full frame. I did not have a favourite photo subjects, but after some time I became interested in street photography and street portraits. Generally decisive moment speak to me the most, ordinary people in an ordinary world, tired faces of everyday life. Maps of life written on their faces that everyone interprets differently. For me the most power in photography is multiplicity of interpretations. No one can tell another person what is good and what is bad. Everyone has an opinion and can defend it. With curiosity I look at people and their kind, which I try to capture in my photos. Each portrait is different, and each moment is unique, so I try to photograph so as to capture what at the moment is the most unique and unusual.










I used pentax k20, but now I use k-5 and usually my favourite lens pentax 77mm ltd. 1.8 but sometimes 35mm 2.4.

Greetings Lukasz.

My facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Photography-by-Luca/588506824581547?ref=tn_tnmn

Sep 162015

Ireland with the Olympus E-M1. A Photographic Journey

by Tom Ohle

My name is Tom and I’m from Ireland. A few years back while visiting my beautiful fiance in Canada I kicked my love for photography into over drive!

Your site is fantastic and largely responsible for fuelling my love for photography. For me it’s the equivalent of a great cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

These next two images are from my favourite place of all. The west coast of Ireland in Co. Kerry just off of the Dingle peninsula at a little place called ‘Inch Strand’. It’s a spectacular part of the world with huge wide beaches as far as the eye can see.

EM1 + Nocticron
“The Kite”


EM1 + Nocticron
“Misty Beach”


The west coast of Ireland (particularly Co. Kerry) is known around the world for its spectacular cliffs. If you ever make it to this part of the world check out Sleigh Head.
This next one was shot overlooking the peninsula. I set out not knowing what to expect and stumbled across this huge hill that overlooked the main peninsula providing a stunning view. I improvised a quick fashion shoot – lighting was very overcast – perfect natural soft box!

EM1 + Nocticron
“He left me in Ireland”


For the most part I like street photography and travel portraiture but I try not to pidgeon-hole myself into a particular genre. I’ve taken my camera and lenses around Ireland and the great white North in Canada. From portraits of random people on the street to portraits of wolves and wolf dogs I generally always have a camera in my hand.

EM1 + Oly 45 1.8
“We need to talk”


I find that the images that I am most drawn to from your other writers tend to have people in them. Either obvious images of people directly or may not so obvious images of landscapes that show the mark of peoples involvement. In more recent times having read some of Neil Buchanan Grants posts here I’ve been inspired to approach my subjects and subject matter from the perspective of a travel photographer. Even in my home town I try to ask ‘ what would be really cool and interesting about this place that I could show somebody in a completely different part of the world ‘.

EM1 + Oly 45
“Who are you lookin at?”


Em1 + PanaLeica 25 1.4
“Violinist on the street”


Busking and street performing are very popular and a large part of Irish city culture. A walk down Dublin’s Grafton street on a Saturday afternoon is an explosion for the senses. Stilt walkers, dancers, acrobats doing back flips, fire breathers – it’s got it all. The shot of the busker was taken in Co. Cork – many of these performers are very street photo friendly and do not mind you taking their photo once you acknowledge them. No better way than by throwing them a few euro :)

“Rebel without a cause”


Dublin has a bunch of really cool locally owned coffee shops. Unfortunately we are seeing more and more big chain coffee shops pop up about the place but thankfully the locals still support the local businesses. Many of these coffee shops make a cool studio for european style impromptu photoshoots!

Sunset in (not on) the Liffey!


For me, a photo has not completed it’s journey until it has been developed and printed. The printing aspect is a recent discovery and I have very much fallen in love with this aspect of the creative process. I now shoot for the print.

Fine art giclee prints on fiber paper are gorgeous. I spend hours trying to get the balance between the choice of edit, the type of paper, texture, color calibration etc… holding a finished product in my hand is immensely satisfying.

I’m very much a learner with a lot yet to learn but I’d hope to have my first article published and open to constructive criticism and feedback from the community. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to look at my photos and I hope that you enjoyed them.

My flickr is : https://www.flickr.com/photos/24434110@N05/



Sep 152015


Over 100 Leica Weddings

by Philip Thomas

Steve- thanks for the opportunity to share my love of the Leica. I’ve been reading this blog for over five years and it was part of your early reviews that finally moved me to try a Leica M9.

Over a 100 Leica weddings have come and gone since I shot my first wedding with a Leica M9 and a Leica M(240). This post is not for readers interested in a review of Leica gear. Rather, it’s more about how I feel when I use it and how it’s shaped my approach to taking photos. Perhaps even making me a better photographer for it.



The small non-intimidating cameras have allowed me to go about my wedding work as unobtrusively as possible and not be seen as the ‘professional photographer’. You see, I don’t want to draw attention to myself much like a street shooter. Couples booking me know in advance my philosophical approach and the idea of a photographer not directing their day has a strong appeal. It’s not just opened my mind up to a patient way of seeing, capturing moments and geometry, but how I carry myself throughout a wedding.




A photographer for over 20 years, I’ve always had an interest in the Leica history. When I first got my hands on a Leica six years ago, I knew from that moment, somehow I had to get one without breaking the bank. Discussing this with my wife’s approval was part of the deal. My first camera was the M9 with a 35mm f1.4 summilux and from that point on I was hooked. Over a 100 weddings later, the M9 and Leica M240 are an integral part of my wedding day along with a few lenses. A 1957 M3 is also part of my personal gear.




My philosophy shooting weddings is to react and anticipate moments throughout a wedding day. I take a few quick group shots. Other than that, I capture the day unobtrusively avoiding those done and dusted wedding cliches. People just ignore me because the Leica is so small, no one takes any notice and those Uncle Bob’s, the often annoying camera enthusiasts at every wedding just do not approach. Compared to lifting a big SLR to my eye certainly gets people’s attention and unobtrusiveness is certainly not part of the vocabulary. Of course, none of this can really be achieved without the appropriate body language throughout the long day shoot.




My reasons why I use a rangefinder are multiple. Along with the obvious history and inspiration using Leica, my mind has opened up to a world that I didn’t always see before and I strongly believe that as a work in progress my images are stronger. The full manual focus (yes, I can focus more often than not quicker manually than auto focus), the simplicity of shutter and aperture give me complete control over the final images. If I mess up, then I cannot blame the camera. It’s basic aperture and shutter operation. My eye pre-visualizes the type of images I want to create vs the former method of shooting a DSLR and reacting to everything and then the momentary blackness of the shutter closing may mean missing the shot entirely. With the rangefinder, I don’t miss anything, other than the occasional physical finger action not quite paired with my brain.






I rarely look or monkey chimp the reviews after each shot or if I do it’s just to check the histogram. My mind already has the image before pressing the shutter. It’s shooting with purpose versus the temptation to machine gun images that a SLR offers. Sure you can shoot multiple images albeit at a slower burst rate, but that’s not what the Leica have been designed for, It’s more of a cerebral thoughtful approach. This all takes practice in getting efficient. A recent wedding client, a Leica aficionado was kind to marvel how quickly I could focus and shoot their images on par with a SLR, just not wasting files space on a card with multiple shots that look the same.





I have and do often shoot a full days wedding armed with just two Leica’s, a M9 and M240 using just available light. Not only does this approach work wonders for my ageing back but it keeps me nimble on my toes without having to drag a heavy bag around. I’ve always been a huge fan of Henri Cartier-Bresson who not only used a Leica and a 50mm lens but marveled at how in his documentary films that remain how he moved around like a cat on tip toes.






There are many wonderful rangefinder type cameras on the market today compared to just five to ten years ago. At the end of the day, the final image is still the most important, not the camera. But the tools to make that image, surely can inspire and motivate you to take your passion and craft to the top. For me, those sublime Leica lenses and little cameras do the trick. The Leica enables me to just concentrate on the subject and my consciousness is focused on the decisive moment, not what menu option I should have.







Thanks for reading. My site is www.philipthomasstudios.com

Warm regards,
Philip Thomas

W: www.philipthomasstudios.com
Blog: www.philipthomasstudios.com/blog/

Nominated Top 20 Wedding Photographer in Texas

WPJA-Wedding Photojournalist Association® Multi-award Winning Photographer.

Sep 142015

Cuba with an Olympus PEN E-P5, a VF-4 and Three Primes

By Richard Nugent

About two and a half years ago, you posted my user report detailing my experience with my Olympus OMD E-M5 and a Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8 on a trip down the Mekong River. There was some worthwhile discussion generated in the comments section, so I thought I would share my recent experience using the E-P5 and primes as a travel camera.

Owner: Olympus / Region: World Usage: all media

I flew to Cuba from Miami early this year on a people-to-people tour with National Geographic Expeditions. At the time, travel to Cuba from the US was restricted to this type of cultural exchange arrangement. I was eager to visit the island before the recent US-Cuba détente took effect and things changed. I certainly was not disappointed with the trip. Cuba is a marvelous place and its people are welcoming and friendly. Havana is an extraordinarily target-rich environment for photographers. The few areas outside of Havana that we visited also provided opportunities to test ones skill.


I purchased the E-P5 in order to have a smaller camera and a back-up body to my E-M1. I also bought the VF-4 electronic viewfinder because, after forty-odd years of shooting with SLRs and then DSLRs, I am most comfortable framing at eye-level. Last year, I tried the Sony R100 Mark III as my take-anywhere camera, but I found its controls difficult to work and the viewfinder too small and inconvenient. So I decided to try the E-P5, even though it is not really “small” nor does it have a built-in viewfinder.

The trip to Cuba was my first travel opportunity since acquiring the camera. So I opted to take only the E-P5, the VF-4 and my three primes, even though I usually shoot with zooms when I travel. The prime lenses were: the Olympus 45mm f1.8 (90mm equivalent), the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 (40mm eq.) and 14mm f2.5 (28mm eq.).


The short version of my experience is that the E-P5 captured some excellent images and was enjoyable to use. Its controls are very similar to the E-M5 and, to a lesser degree, to my E-M1, so operationally things were easy for me. However, the rear LCD was difficult to use because of the bright tropical sun (although indoors it was fine). So I wound up shooting with the VF-4 for most of the time. The detail and refresh-rate of the EVF are excellent; about on a par with my E-M1. Its 90-degree flip-up option was useful as well.



Changing lenses took me back to my early SLR days before zooms were perfected. But I found that I can still juggle two lenses at a time and I also remember how to “zoom with my feet”. I did miss a few shots though. Also, a 12mm (24mm equivalent) lens would have been useful for interiors and shots on the narrow city streets. And maybe something longer than 45mm (90mm equivalent) might have been useful for street shooting at a distance.
There were abundant opportunities to photograph Havana’s people, architecture and, of course, old cars. Also, as the trip had a cultural-exchange focus, we attended several singing, instrumental or dance performances by both school children and adults (all of whom were very talented and obviously well trained). The Cubans have been doing amazing things with very few resources.



The performance venues allowed ample opportunity to test the camera’s low-light shooting capability. There were occasional instances of problems locking focus in dimly lighted recital rooms, but with well-lit stages the camera generally focused quickly. High ISO performance (to 1600) was good with a little clean-up necessary in Light Room. Image stabilization worked fine for hand-held shots (I did not use my monopod or tripod).
I have attached some sample images below. More examples can be found on my Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rsnugent/albums/72157650702299470. There are photos from some of my other travels in there as well.


To summarize: The E-P5 is a fine camera that has a full array of direct controls and it handles much like the E-M5 (or E-M1). With the small MFT primes, it takes high quality images both indoors and outside. However, operating it in sunny conditions, while relying solely on the rear LCD, can be problematic. In such situations, the VF-4 offers an excellent, though expensive, alternative. But, it also should be noted that the E-P5 with the EVF attached is not really a compact package. I have to admit that I underestimated this aspect of the combination. I had anticipated that I would be able to rely on the rear LCD for most shooting and need to attach the EVF only occasionally. This turned out to not be the case.

In the end, as much as I loved how the camera handled and the images it produced, I sold the E-P5 and VF-4 because, for me, the combination was a bit cumbersome as a travel kit. Now I am evaluating the E-M10 as my “small-camera” option. We shall see how that works out. I will update you all later.

Thank you.

Sep 142015

Sony A7RII and Voigtlander 35 1.2 Test

by Rob McKay

Hi Steve and Brandon,

The site is looking awesome as usual and packed full of great info!

All four of these street snaps I shot within a 4min span while out testing the Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton lens on my A7RII and all wide open.

Because of your recent posts on the Sony A7RII, I sold my A7S and jumped in. I have both Loxia’s, the brass Petzval, 70-200 FE f/4, 55mm f/1.8 and recently grabbed the 28mm FE F/2 after reading your review on it. My Leica lenses seem to work great on this body as well.

A7RII can be found HERE. The Voigtlander 35 1.2 can be seen HERE. 





Loving the files from the Sony A7RII and the interesting images the Voigtlander f/1.2 produces.

Thanks again!

Rob McKay

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