Jul 292014

My first serious try with the Leica M Monochrome

By Chris

This is my very first photography blog ever. I hope to share with you all my passion in photography and photographic gear.

It’s been a year or so since I first purchased the Leica M Monochrom. There’s no shred of doubt of its image quality while able to understand what Leica has done to the sensor. On paper there’s nothing special about its specs. Some might even question if there’s a need for a camera that only produces Black and White images. We all know there is some decent film simulator software like SilverFlex Pro, DXO Film Pack, VSCO cam….etc or even some fairly good LR presets out there will do the job for converting color images into black and white with great detail. So, is there a need? If you are a massive black and white photography fan, often make large prints for appreciation and are a LTM lens user then this is the camera for you. I am not going to go through any A&B tests or spec comparisons because they are widely available on the web. What I am going to do is walk you through my first serious try with the Leica M Monochrom.

On the evening of the14th of February 2014, I started to pack my gear for my trip to Paris, this being the second time visiting (family trip the first time, couldn’t get any good shots at all) my intent was to focus heavily on photography. I struggled with choosing what gear would accompany me when you know they can all produce incredible image quality. The Monochrom has been sitting in my drybox for at least a year, I blame myself very much for that but greed is the nature of humans when you get to choose from colour and have the ability to convert to black and white later on versus to strictly black and white from a colour blind sensor; of course the choice will be colour (M9-P). However, my love for black and white photography has always been strong and constantly growing. Finally I had enough courage to take the M Monochrom and left my M9-P behind for this trip. What lenses then? This was an even harder task than choosing which camera to take. From what I heard the Leica M Monochrom works very well with vintage Leica screw mount lenses. Not long before this trip I managed to purchase the Leica 28 f/5.6 Summaron from a collector. Wide angle? Check., What about a standard lens? Leica 50 F/2 Summicron Collapsible Radioactive. Right. I am good to go!

First day, Eiffel Tower. Pre-booked to skip the line – Eiffel Tower package from easypasstours.com* which was very useful. The queue was scary and learned a lot more about the history of the Eiffel Tower (tour guide was being very informative). I spent the whole afternoon there until the sun went down and the view from the Summit was incredible and weather that day was in full cooperation! Seeing the sun setting with amazing colour I once again felt if I had brought the wrong camera but after taking a few shots and being able to see how amazing the light falls on Paris without the disturbance of colour was just incredible! The Leica 28 F/5.6 Summaron did an awesome job for capturing every bit of detail.
*A warm reminder regarding the Summit, it has a metal net surrounding it for safety reasons, therefore large lenses cannot be used effectively.

This has been mentioned many times but I had to repeat – there are a lot of people complaining about how flat the M Monochrom files look, but being flat is a positive thing because those RAWs give you massive freedom to do postproduction! However, please remember not to overexpose too much for the highlight as I found the recovery of the highlights wasn’t on par with most of the top CMOS sensors out in the market, like the Sony A7R. So is this bad? Not at all. You just have to go with the character of this sensor, treat it like a slide and try to expose accurately for every frame. There are so many details / information you can recover from the shadows. Sometimes the shadowed areas can get a bit grainy but hell, I love the grain; it looks nothing like Digital Noise (disgusting). Just unbelievable!

The Leica 50 F/2 Summicron Collapsible Radioactive batch I owned has average glass with hairline scratches and cleaning marks in the middle but surprisingly none of those factors affect the images. Images are very solid. This particular combo is my current favourite due to its compactness. I would agree more sharpness / detail / resolution can be achieved with modern lenses like 50 F/1.4 Asph or 50 F/2 Asph APO but the resolve power which the The Leica 50 F/2 Summicron Collapsible Radioactive batch is more than enough (this comment also applies to the Leica 28 F/5.6 Summaron) and to be honest, I prefer the optical characteristics from vintage lenses. I have the Leica 50 F/2 Asph APO on order. When it arrives I will share a few samples and possibly AB tests.

I am no stranger to black and white photography but the M Monochrom has allowed me once again to focus and explore even deeper without the distraction of colour. You can never get enough from this camera. Some say Monochrom is the new colour and I very much agree with this theory because there is so much to see in monochrom!

I hope you all enjoy the images. Please be sure to leave any comments and feedback by either emailing me or leaving me a message on my Facebook page! Thank you!

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Jul 112014

My New Challenge: Black and White Landscape

By Dirk


I decided I need a new challenge in photography. Thirty years ago, I printed black and white landscape. After a move I didn’t have a darkroom anymore and it stopped. Some years ago I started shooting medium format. My favorite camera was the Mamiya 7 rangefinder with the 43mm lens.


I started shooting landscape again. I discovered I could directly use all my darkroom experience in Photoshop. This week I bought a 6×9 technical camera. I’m going for serious landscape now, with a camera with movements. I hope to make about ten good images a year. I very much enjoy going to the basics of photography. I know the Sony A7R with the Canon 17mm tilt – shift is better, but I don’t care: there is simply no comparison. I get my images printed with an inkjet on Hahnemühle baryta. I like grain and thus I shoot with 400 ASA film.

Here are a few images, shot with the Mamiya 7 with the 43mm lens:

The Bernia mountain range, Costa Blanca, Spain, orange filter.

Bernia mountain

Schelde river at Antwerp, red filter; this image was on my first roll off the Mamiya.

River Schelde, Antwerp

A village in the Ardennes, shot with an orange filter.



Jul 032012

Hello Steve and Hello everybody!

Shortly about my self.

46 years, Male, Danish, use to be pressphotographer from 1985 – 2005. Lost my inspiration, my energy and my “photoway” of thinking. So I gave up and played some bass guitar instead. But I did not sell all my cameras, so on hollidays I took pictures like you do on hollidays. I still have a Nikon D200 and a 17 – 55 mm.

I have had all the professional Nikon cameras, often three or four at the same time. All the good lenses – incl. the brilliant 300mm f 2,8 ;-) The manuel one. AND I had the Leica M6 with some good lenses. I sold everything for digital Nikon system – and then – I gave it all up.

The past three – four years I have taking almost no pictures. Except with my iPhone. I had it always by my side. So I though that if I should have the inspiration back, I had to find a small camera with high quality that I could have on me all the time. I was thinking of my Leica M6 and the way I took pictures when I had that camera in my hand. I was more focussed and more creative than with my Nikon. Don´t ask why. Do anyone have an answer to that ?

I researched around the web and found the Leica X2 test on this site. So here I am. With a black beaty in my hand. Included the electronic viewfinder.

The X2 give me what I need. When I take it in my hand I feel we are a team. I use it fully automatic, and fully manuel – I only take black and white – I expose the pictures in BW and I run them thrue Photoshop and Silver Efex Pro 2. (I do not have the money for a Monochrome. Let´s see if there´s a M10 soon.)

Thanks for the X2 test and thanks for all the stories from around the world. You have all giving me a lot of energy and inspiration back

The chosen photos are all taking when I was on tour.or just down town.

All the best

Lasse Jorgensen



May 092012

I am in Berlin and in a Black and White kind of mood…

Well here I am in Berlin..here it is now officially May 10th 2012 and today is the big event from Leica. Today  I have already met Eric Kim briefly in the lobby and tomorrow I plan on meeting quite a few more website guys like Sean Reid, Michael Reichman, Thorston Overgaard, and an old forum acquaintance from my DPreview forum days, Jonathan Slack. Some of the coolest blogging/website guys around, and they will all be here. So cool!

I just returned from a very cool bar/restaurant here where I had a chat with some guys from Leica. It’s always fun to hang out with them and I did my best to pry out info from them but they wouldn’t budge, lol! BTW, Thanks for the invite Boris! :)

Later today I will be heading to the event and will hopefully be blogging live from there (as long as there is internet available). If not, I will be posting all about it when I get back to my room. I’m hearing rumblings about many new product announcements so should be an exciting evening. NEW Leica products…what is there NOT to like. But, I really do NOT think an M10 is part of the announcement. I get the feeling that one will come later, so for those waiting for an M10, I do not think it is going to happen tomorrow.

We all know the rumors so will be cool to see if they pan out and i am hoping there is a surprise in there as well. Keep your eyes peeled to this site for all of the news and photos from the event.

In a B&W kind of mood…

In any case, I have never been to Berlin but this looks like a place I could really dig. VERY VERY cool and as I took a walk around today near the hotel I was all of a sudden in a black and white kind of mood…I started seeing in monochrome and while I only snapped 4-5 shots I had a nice walk.

I am here in Berlin through Saturday and have most of the day Friday to walk around, explore and take photos. If anyone local wants to join me let me know!

BTW, these were all shot with the little OM-D and Voigtlander 17 f/0.95 ands I have to say that this lens has won me over. As I shoot more with it I am finding it pretty damn good even wide open at f/0.95. $1249 at B&H but this is a super fast 35mm equivalent for your M4/3 camera. I like the 25 0.95 as well but have to say the 17mm would be my choice if deciding between the two because there is no other alternative for this system. In the 25mm (50mm) department we have the $550 Panasonic which I think may be a bit better than the Voigtlander 25mm, and it is half the cost. Still, it is not an 0.95 nor does it have the build of the more expensive lens but it is smaller and sharper.

So if you have been looking for a fast 35mm equivalent, the 17mm comes highly recommended by me and I may just keep it if I can swing it with the $$. More photos below with the combo of the OM-D and 17mm.

Maybe in a few hours I will be shooting Monochrome with something else :) If the rumors are true that is…


Mar 132012

User Report: Choosing and Using a Black & White Film by Ibraar Hussain

With the demise of Kodak Ektachrome things seem to be getting from bad to worse for Film and options for film users seem to be dwindling. A shame, as I adore e100vs and nothing in my opinion can replicate it. But with all the doom and gloom, one thing, which in my belief will always be around, is good old Black and White Film. There are more B&W Film manufacturers than Colour these days, and a decade ago this would’ve been unthinkable.

So many choices are available for the photographer; we have Kodak, Ilford, Efke, Rollei and Agfaphoto to name a few. B&W Film has its own beauty, and each emulsion is very distinctive. Digital photography has progressed and has reached new horizons, but I think it still lacks the feel, look and character of Film.

Many digital photographers have been pushed and have striven for grain free images, their quest for the extermination of Grain has led to, in my opinion, more clinically flat images lacking depth and character. Sure, they’re very high-resolution and have a beautiful range of tones and qualify as B&W fine art, with some being far superior to others, but in the transition I think something has been lost. I’m no master photographer, and most may consider my skills and vision has mediocre at the best, but that’s not why I’m writing.

My aim is to try to demonstrate and show some examples of different film, their individual characteristics, and the use of Filters, which can give a different look and feel. Developer used and developing times also have a large influence, but my Negatives are always developed at manufacturers recommended times and temperature.

The beauty of B&W Film is that the choice of film/ filter/ lens/ developer plays a vital collective role in the creative process. A creative decision is made prior to the shots being taken, i.e. The subject and location matter, of course, but the photographer may decide upon a certain look and feel and for that will choose a certain Film and/or Filter to give them what they’re after. The choice will also be constant – i.e. once the camera has been loaded there’s no turning back! (Unless the camera is a MF with interchangeable backs).

Grain is a thing of beauty, it gives character, detail, and mood, and is used to good effect, and to portray a certain atmosphere or feel. I tend to try different fast films for a different look – Kodak TMNZ 3200, Ilford Delta 3200 and Fuji Neopan 1600 all have their own beauty. Pushing film, say Ilford HP5+ from 400 a couple of stops also heightens grain.

Some photographers may require lots of grain, to give the photograph a gritty reportage like feel, or to give stormy skies a more dramatic and moody look, others may require grain to give their nudes or models a certain effect. And this can be achieved to some extent with artificial grain adding filters and plug-ins, but it’s not the same!

Filters add a lot too. Some people shoot all day every day with a Yellow filter permanently attached. One such Great is Don McCullin – B&W photographer par excellence. His photographs are simply spellbinding, stunning, grim, dark but his vision is on another level entirely. Best known for his War photographs and pictures from Cambodia, Lebanon and Vietnam – his landscapes and documentary photographs are brilliant – utterly!

A few books to look out for are; In England, In Africa, Don McCullin and Open Skies.

Red filters add more contrast and darken blue skies and a light blue filter strengthens skin tones. A really good book to read and which explains a lot about B&W photography is The Art of Black and White Photography by John Garrett. I enjoy experimenting with Film, and my Contax G2 has helped me along in the creative process. The G2, being a rangefinder is superb for B&W. The reason why I say superb is because you don’t view ‘through the lens’, but through a Viewfinder, and attaching Filters – even semi opaque deep red filters doesn’t impede your vision.

The G2 is also quick, has a great meter and the lenses are very contrasty – some may dislike this aspect, others love it. As for myself, I enjoy photographing people – friends, family, people on the street, and travel shots and the G2 is great for this – and I love using fast films with plenty of grain (most of the time)

I’ve included various shots here, with a brief description of the film used and Filter/developer – they’ll give some visual information as to the feel of the different Film/Filters.

My negatives have been scanned with an Epson 4990 into 16bit TIFF. Loaded up into Photoshop, and then I use layers – new later – overlay – 30% (or as required) to use the brush tool to dodge and burn. I also use levels to play with contrast. I’ve also started playing with prints in my darkroom, and when I’m free, the weather is dire, I’m at home and the missus isn’t busting my balls I enjoy playing in the darkroom just as much if not more than going out shooting! There’s heaven and Earth difference between pratting around on Photoshop and in the traditional darkroom – if you have never tried it, give it a go!

I hope photographers can try out some B&W Film, and give developing a go. Developing is easy, as is scanning, and I believe there was an article on Steve’s website not long back about basics of developing Film.

Young lad in a suit. London. 45mm Planar T* Ilford HP5+ pushed 1 stop @ 800 asa.

Guy on a  boat. Istanbul, Turkey 2008. 45mm Planar T*. Kodak TMZ 3200. Ilfotec ID11.

Galata Tower Istanbul, Turkey 2008. 90mm Sonnar T* Kodak TMZ 3200. ID11.

Istanbul by the Bosphorus. 45mm Planar T*. Kodak TMZ 3200. ID11.

Kids on a Boat. On the Golden Horn, Istanbul, Turkey. 45mm Planar T*. Kodak TMZ 3200. ID11

Turkish Market vendor. Istanbul, Turkey. 45mm Planar T*. Kodak TMZ3200. ID11.

Amongst the Pillars.  In The Hagia Sofia, Istanbul, Turkey. 21mm Biogon T*.  Fuji Neopan 1600.

Dad watching TV. 45mm Planar T* Ilford HP5  pushed to 1600 asa

Mr Ali. London. 45mm Planar T*. Fuji Neopan Acros 100. ID11

On The South bank of the Thames. London. 21mm Biogon T*. Fuji Neopan Acros 100. Red 25 Filter. ID11

Elvis with shades on. People watching a street performer. South bank, London. 90mm Sonnar T* Fuji Neopan Acros 100. Yellow Filter.

Homeless Guy on the Golden Jubilee bridge. Embankment, London. 45mm Planar T*. Fuji Neopan Acros 100. Yellow Filter.

Heart on her lapel. Cranford, Middlesex. 45mm Planar T* Ilford Delta 100 pro. Red 25 Filter. From my first roll in the G2 2005.

Storm clouds a Brewing. Twickenham, Middlesex. 90mm Sonnar T*. Ilford HP5+ @ 3200 asa. Red 25 Filter.

Epping Forest. Essex. 21mm Biogon T*. Ilford SFX 200 with red 25 filter. SFX is a pseudo IR Film.

Pashtuns. Mingora, Swat Valley, Pakistan. 2007. 45mm Planar T*. Kodak Tri X 400.

Jul 062011

Having some Fun in Pula, Croatia! Behind the Scenes!

Wow, what a month! So many cool places and it just keeps getting better. Took some more behind the scenes stuff which is always fun.

Last night we stopped over in Pula, Croatia and I managed to squeeze in some time to walk the streets, have dinner and of course, photograph everything! With no internet on the bus, what else is there to do? Lol. I’ll just get straight to the images but if you want to learn more about Pula, you can click here.

Right outside of my hotel! I took advantage and caught some sun for an hour or so. Gorgeous.


Seal and the band played here, at an old colosseum which is now the Arena…and it was amazingly cool

This lady was a lot of fun. When I approached her and her dog with my camera she smiled and laughed. She was wondering why I wanted her picture. In reality, I thought she looked cool sitting there with her white outfit, her white dog and black hat.

When shooting in the streets my usual approach is to shoot first, ask later. This boy was wondering why my camera was aimed at him and I love the look he gave me when I fired the shutter.

There seemed to be quite a bit of this going on through the side streets. People hanging out of their windows conversing with the people down below. It was a cool vibe.

I waited for this girl to look my way and as soon as she did I snapped the shot. I then nodded my head and smiled, and she smiled back. I find that most of the time people do not mind getting their pictures taken.

Back at the arena Seal was doing Soundcheck and sounding great..check out his shirt :)

Steve Nimmer, the stage manager was sleeping in the sun as the night before he was putting together the stage during a HUGE thunderstorm.

But he soon woke to get some finishing touches done before showtime…

Back in the room Mark and Gus were rehearsing a new song…

and SHOWTIME! I only used  the 24 & 50 Summilux for this show

Steve (also an M9 shooter) is the guitar tech for Seal and Mark and keeps busy during the show as you can see here…

The crowd getting into it…


Feb 062010

Was out today and whadda ya know!  It started snowing really bad! Since I had my M9 in hand I told my wife I wanted to get some shots of her (to later convert to B&W) with snow falling all around her. Well, just as I was about to press the shutter button the snow stopped! The light was fading so I took a few snaps anyway and converted them all to B&W with Silver Efex Pro. Most of  these were OOC JPEGS but I like the way the 50 Cron handled the flat dull light. All of these were shot at F2 :)

Mina looks mad here but she really isn’t. She was not aware of when I was going snap and I snuck this one before she smiled, and I like it better than the one with the smile :)

My dog was out and he came up to her as if he wanted to get in on the pics. He is a 12 year old mutt and is the best dog in the world (to us).

The micro-contrast of the 50 Summicron really is pretty special. Even at F2 it renders in a sweet way and the Bokeh here looks good to my eyes. Not “amazing” and some may call it “busy” but does it really take anything away from the photo? Nope, not in my opinion. Print one of these out, show it to 20 people and not one would say “Ugg! Look at that Bokeh!” :)

Just wanted to share these as I shot them AFTER my 50 Summicron review and feel they are a good representation of B&W with this lens. Thanks for looking!


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