Mar 042014
 

LEICA M MONOCHROMATIC IMAGES

By Michael Nemlich

I gain so much from yours as well as others posts, so I would be honored to contribute some in revenge. These days I use the M (240) following M9, M8 and Digilux 3. Since I do a lot of B&W images, before I moved to the 240 I considered the attractive and tempting MM; but my left side brain resisted, for one and only (good) reason, as follows:

According the phrase: “a picture is worth a thousand words”’ let’s talk (4) pictures:

The image “A” is of a scene in Manasseh-Heights. The image is chromatic, as a standard human eye sees it.

If this scene would have been taken with the MM it would be seen as image “B” with very close tones of both fields. No much can be done to distinguish between them.

Nevertheless, converting the original (color “A”) image to monochrome IN PP has the inherent option to influence the grey tones via the color channels; so lightening the oranges and darken the greens yields the image “C” and vice-versa results the image “D”. For me this was the one and only – but crucial – reason to stay with a ‘color’ sensor for B&W photography. Some short experience with the MM encouraged this theorem.

I hope this short essay helps.

All the Best. Nemlich

nemlich.leicaimages.com and www.beshumma.com

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Mar 042014
 

An M for every occasion

By Cris Rose

Hi Brandon, Steve,

They say the best camera, is the one you have with you – thats the most important rule I offer to anyone that asks me about photography, and one that lead me to the Leica M. I was probably around 15 when I first saw a Leica, silver and black with a simple form and intricate dials. I had no idea how much they cost, but it looked amazing and clearly made an impression on me. The decade or so afterwards saw a wide range of cameras in my hands, from compact APS, to IXUS digitals, through to my first digital SLR in University. I learned a lot from that Canon 300D and soon moved to a 20D and the well-loved EF 50mm f1.8, the “nifty fifty”. That setup got a lot of use and I learned a lot about photography with it. Then a few years ago, when I stumbled upon your site, I was reminded of that Leica again. The shots from Leica Ms were amazing. I’d picked up a 60D by then, and while it was great, I’d never quite taken to the SLR style of use and I found the digital files cold and clinical. I’d also found the camera and lenses so large, that I never took them out places with me. I was taking my Lomo LCa everywhere instead and while I was really enjoying the look of film in comparison to my Canon, my Lomo was no Leica and the results showed. I followed your blog, and lamented on Twitter, one day, that Leicas were so beautiful, but that I’d never afford to own one. Certainly not your M9.

Then suddenly, I found myself with an M2. An online friend hadn’t used it for years and offered it to me if i put it to good use. I was overjoyed, to say the least. The style of shooting with the M2 was the breath of fresh air I needed, I took to it immediately. It wasn’t long before I realised the Leica bug had bit me, I’d saved up for 9 months, sold my 60D, and bought a used M8. If the best camera is the one you have with you, then my M8 was the best camera I’d owned. I took it everywhere. Today, I find myself, once again, amazed, as I have an M9 that came to me through equally unlikely circumstances, and a solid set of Voigtlander, Zeiss and Leica lenses to use on it. If I arrange to go somewhere, specifically to take photos, I take both digitals, a film M and 4 lenses, all of which fit easily in a very small shoulder bag. But even if I’m just popping to the shops, I take my M9. I never leave the house without it. I like to keep it by my side, strapped to my wrist, ready to shoot. It really is a camera for all occasions and subjects. A landscape, a street scene, a portrait or pet, the flexibility of the M system is fantastic, the quality of the M9 continues to amaze me and the shear compactness of the form it all comes in, means it can always be with me. Every shot here is a result of random encounters.

The M system may not be the newest, or most advanced, but for me, the M9 is my ideal camera.

Contact details:

My photo portfolio can be found at www.crisrose.co.uk, my photoblog at www.crisrose.co.uk/blog. My Flickr is flickr.com/crisrose and my twitter is @crisr. I also have a Tumblr at www.analoguerobot.co.uk if that’s not already enough places to find my photos

Thanks for such a great, inspirational site. I can squarely blame you for my M2/6/8/9 ownership and probably many more Ms to come.

Cris Rose

0163: M9 + CV 50/1.1 Nokton

Midnight Cycle

0587: M9 + ZM 25/2.8 Biogon

Fly By

0799: M9 + ZM 50/2 Planar

Watching The Chef

0808: M9 + ZM 50/2 Planar

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0935: M9 + ZM 25/2.8 Biogon

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0328: M8 + CV 50/1.1 Nokton

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0463: M9 + CV 50/1.1 Nokton

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1524: M9 + ZM 50/2 Planar

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2825: M8 + CV 35/1.4 Nokton Classic

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5713: M8 + ZM 50/2 Planar

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5846: M8 + CV 50/1.1 Nokton

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6336: M8 + ZM 50/2 Planar

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6464: M8 + ZM 50/2 Planar

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Feb 052014
 

Used Leica M 240 – $6495 – Owned by Mark Spitz

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Was browsing over at pop flash.com today to see if they had any interesting goodies and noticed that they have a black Leica M 240 for sale, used, for $6495. They say it was owned by Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz. Hopefully it never took a swim with Mark, lol.

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Either way, it appears to be a great buy for someone looking to save a little on a new M 240. Also comes with a Thumbs up, soft release and letter from Mark Spitz. You can see the details over at PopFlash.com HERE.

 

Feb 012014
 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Want a Leica M 240? No need to wait any longer as it is in stock just about everywhere..links below:

B&H Photo – Black

B&H Photo – Silver

PopFlash – DEALS!!!

Ken Hansen (E-Mail him at [email protected])

The Pro Shop

Leica Store Miami

Amazon – Black and Silver

Jan 242014
 

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Leica M 240 in CHROME  - IN STOCK NOW!

In stock at B&H Photo HERE - (They have only ONE)

USED Deal at PopFlash.com HERE for $6197! (under 1000 actuations)

Leica Monochrom – Deal at PopFlash.com  - $7397 under 100 Actuations

AND A GREAT LENS for the M 240, used deal HERE

and yes..this is still my favorite camera!

Leica Dealers who I trust and who support this website to help keep it going:

Ken Hansen ([email protected]) - Ken has all new Leica and many used Leica cameras. Sometimes he has some rare items so if you are looking for something special, shoot him an email and he may have it. Ken is a legendary dealer.

The Pro Shop - These guys have Leica, Nikon and a ton of other gear. Located in West Palm Beach, FL they are a GREAT shop loaded with amazing gear.

Leica Store Miami: They have the coolest cases for your M. The Art Di Mano cases are both beautiful and functional and fit like a glove. (I will have a few M case reviews coming VERY soon)

Jan 082014
 

Leica M-E, M 240 and Monichrom IN STOCK!

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Just for those of you still wanting either of these cameras, B&H Photo has ALL THREE of these in stock right now. I know many of the readers here have been waiting for the M-E as it offers a different look to the M 240 due to the CCD sensor, so here ya go!

Links below:

The Leica M-E IN stock HERE at B&H Photo

The Leica M 240 IN stock HERE at B&H Photo

The Leica Monochrom in stock HERE at B&H Photo

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Also, it is possible that other top Leica dealers have these in stock as well. Always check with your fave! The dealers below are the top of the heap when it comes to Leica!

Ken Hansen ([email protected])

PopFlash.com (they have a screaming deal on a Monochrom at the moment)

The Pro Shop – 561-253-2606

Leica Store Miami

Dec 272013
 

Voigtlander close focus M Adapter, 50 Nokton 1.5 and Sony A7r

By Steve Huff

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Hello to all! The new year is almost upon us and last week I received a very cool item to check out. Not thinking it would be anything special I set it to the side for a day or two while I finished my Nikon Df review. When I did get around to mounting it to a Sony A7r I was so happy with this product that I decided to sell my Novoflex Leica M to Sony E adapter immediately! (SOLD)

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The product I am talking about is the Voigtlander Leica M mount to Sony E mount adapter WITH close focus adjustment/ability. This adapter is not only well made, but using the close focus dial allows you to focus MUCH closer than normal with Leica M mount RF glass. How cool is it that we now have a way to focus closer with these gorgeous lenses using a very high quality and well made adapter. Below is a chart showing how much closer you can get with Voigtlander brand M mount lenses:

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So there ya go. You can now focus closer and I am here to tell you that it is a breeze to use this adapter on the Sony cameras. There is a sort of focus dial you rotate to adjust the close focus. Turn it clockwise all the way over if you want full close focus or turn it counter-clockwise all the way to use the lens with normal focus range. You can also set it anywhere in between to dial in the close focus you need. As I stated before, the dial is smooth and well made. This is a VERY high quality adapter.

But what about in use? Does it work well with M mount lenses? Well, yes it does and my new 50mm favorite on the Sony A7/A7r is the Voigtlander 50 1.5 Nokton   - the newest version. Easy to focus, amazing sharpness and detail and beautiful Bokeh (imo). For some reason I prefer this lens on the A7/A7r over the Leica 50 Summilux, and this one is less than 1/4 the price (with free next day ship an B+W filter). I also used this lens extensively on the Leica M 240 and the results can be seen HERE but on the A7 the color is so beautiful and rich and the details are sharp and the 3D pop is there if you want it.

The Adapter is now for sale at cameraquest.com and can be seen HERE.  It is a jewel of a setup and the cool thing is that you can focus normally, or you can get up close if you desire. This adapter is built VERY well and feels like a precision tool. In no way does it feel cheaper than the Novoflex. In fact, it feels nicer than my Novoflex. Well worth the cost and this is now my #1 choice for an adapter to use M mount glass on a Sony body. If you do not desire to focus closer with rangefinder M mount glass then you probably do not need this adapter as its main claim to fame is the close focus ability.

Voigtlander 50 1.5, Sony A7r. This one was shot wide open on Christmas morning. No issues with focus or softness.

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Yet another one wide open, and even with a strong backlight. The A7r and 50 Nokton ROCKS.

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Getting up close with the Nokton and Adapter. Wide open Bokeh Blur!

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Insanely sharp results if you want it to be. This was shot at 1.5, wide open on the A7R

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Again, f/1.5! Brandon received many gifts this year but his fave may have been the $2 silly straw. Lol. 

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Using the close focus. This will not turn a 50mm into a macro but will allow you to get closer than the standard .7 meters of most RF glass. This one will go to about .4 meters.

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So all in all I highly recommend not only the Voigtlander Leica M to E mount close focus adapter, but the Voigtlander 50 1.5 Nokton for use on the new Sony A7 series of camera. You will get the full performance out of this lens on these cameras and it is ahoy to use. I have not had one issue with manually focusing as the viewfinder allows me to nail focus without any focus aids whatsoever. This and the 35 1.2 II along with a few other lenses would be a treat when using this adapter.

You can find all of these items HERE. Thanks to Stephen Gandy at Cameraquest for sending me the Adapter to test out! I think this one stays with me :) $309 is pricey (about $50 more than the trusty Novoflex) but this is the best and most versatile adapter you can buy for your Sony A7 or A7r to use those M mount lenses with. Period.

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Dec 022013
 

Look at what is Under My Tree!

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Ho Ho Ho! Man, am I a lucky guy or what? I realized that I currently have 4 of the hottest, if not THE hottest and most desired digital cameras out there right now!

The Nikon Df, the Leica M 240, the Sony A7r and the Olympus E-M1.

 

I just had to take a quick shot of them as one of these is my pick for Camera of the Year 2013. Which one will it be? Hmmmm..

Also, The Nikon Df just arrived to me today and my 1st impressions?

  • It is much lighter than I expected. The Nikon Df with 50 1.8 is lighter than my M 240 Body alone.
  • It is easy to manual focus
  • IQ seems the same as the D4
  • The camera is smaller than I thought it would be, but still fat.
  • Shutter is nice and smooth, more quiet than the A7 for sure.
  • IQ with the 50 1.8 kit lens is SOFT. This lens sharpens up by 2.2/2.5
  • Smaller battery than D700, D800, etc but Nikon claims 1400 shots.
  • Dials and buttons feel more on the cheap side than rock solid side. 
  • Low light? Superb but the RX1 may beat it in this area..or similar. 
  • It is unique and I love the manual controls. After 10 minutes I learned them all quite easily. 
  • Love the design and look. But the E-M1 feels better in my hand. 
  • VS the A7? The Df is $1000 more for the body but offers many more lenses, faster AF, better high ISO/Low light, quieter operation and an overall faster feel. But it is a DSLR and NOT a mirrorless, so lenses are larger. The Nikon is made in Japan as well. Overall the Sony offers more bang for the buck but lacks in the lenses. 

I will be starting to shoot it tomorrow and will post my full review in the next 2-3 weeks. I will do my 1st look video on Friday or Saturday and compare the black and silver side by side. I will also be testing a trio of 50′s..the kit 1.8, the 50 1.2 AIS and the new 58 1.4, which looks spectacular.

Stay tuned!

Steve

Dec 022013
 

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A weekend with the Sony A7R – A companion review

By Ashwin Rao – His Flickr is HERE

Hello, friends! I am back with a user report and second perspective to the review that Steve’s put together for the much-anticipated and ballyhooed Sony A7R, which I had the privilege of shooting over the past week-end, just ahead of its U.S. release. Interestingly, the U.S. appears to be the last major market to receive the A7R, and while many of you around the world have already begun to use the camera, it’s been rarely seen in these parts. All of that said, I was one of the lucky few to get a taste, and here’s my report.

The Sony A7R, as you know, is an incredibly compact mirrorless camera, housing an impressive 36-megapixel sensor, which forgoes an accompanying low-pass (Anti-Aliasing) filter. It’s a not so distant cousin to the 36 megapixel sensor found in the Nikon D800e, which was also produced by Sony for use with Nikon cameras.

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Sony has been very ambitious with this camera from the get go. The A7 and A7R bring a new compactness to a body capable of holding a full frame sensor, something that previously only the Leica M9 and M240 were capable of providing. In fact, the A7R feels even more compact in hands, in heft, and in feel. It’s a robust feeling camera, feeling solid, and Sony credits it with at least partial weather sealing (when using Sony’s own FE lenses).

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I became interested in the Sony A7R when I began hearing whispers of this camera online. Having been a devotee on the Sony RX1 and RX1R, I have had the joy of working with incredible images produced by these cameras, which produce results that are hard to ignore. As is well known now, Sony’s full frame sensors tend to produce the highest DXO Mark ratings, and while many (myself included) are not fans of such schemes to rate sensors, there is no denying that Sony has been making incredible sensors. When paired with the incredible Zeiss 35 mm f/2 Sonnar lens of the RX1, what is produced can be pure magic. Additionally, I am one of those individuals who decided against upgrading my primary rangefinder system, and I have kept both the Leica M9 and M Monochrom as my primary system. As I scoured the internet trying to find reasons to be convinced to buy the Leica M240, I ultimately felt that I would be best served staying put with my M9, due to availability, cost of upgrade, and the sensor’s interplay and color reproduction with M lenses, some which have reported to be “less sharp” on the new CMOSIS sensor housed by Leica’s latest offering. I know that my opinion is controversial, but many Leica devotees out there share it. Whatever you may call it (CCD look, etc…), the M9 brings something unique to the table with its rendition at base ISO, but it is a crippled camera beyond ISO 800, as its low light capabilities lag far beyond modern cameras, including the M240 and RX1R.

With all of this in mind, I have long had my antenna up looking for signs of another camera that might be adaptable to M lenses and produce solid results. I spent over a year with Fuji’s APS-C offerings, but ultimately the X-trans RAW conversion issues, and APS-C crop pushed me away. While I enjoyed by time with Sony’s NEX-7, the same APS-C crop factor and the sensor’s limitations in bringing the full charm of M lenses to the table pushed me away. I even considered picking up the lovely Olympus EM1, but the m4/3 crop has never been for me, despite all of the camera’s other advantages, which I hope trickle down to Sony someday, now that Olympus and Sony are partners in the camera making business.

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Into the fray arrives the Sony A7R, a sensor delivering a whopping 36 megapixels of AA-less goodness, a true test for M lenses. My curiosity was so piqued that I ordered one from my local dealer a week BEFORE the camera was even announced. Having been thrilled with the output of the Sony RX1R, I vividly imagined the possibilities of an AA-less Sony sensor paired with my stable of M lenses. Would this be a modern sensor by which to play with my M lenses, a camera that I could take out into the night to make color pictures without worry of ISO limitations? Would it be worthy second camera to my now principal camera, the Leica M Monochrom?

Thankfully, one of my great friends Chris Y, a Leica friend of the highest regard, emailed me last week. He had received an A7R from an overseas distributor, and he wanted me to give the camera run with my stable of M lenses. I jumped at the chance, and was able to use the camera extensively, exclusively with M lenses using my Novoflex M-to-E mount adapter, for a 3 day period. Let me just say that the experience was both exhilarating and educational. Did I find the A7R to be the long lost solution for which I had been waiting? Was it a cheaper full frame camera capable of using M lenses of all sorts and producing high quality results? Was it a camera that I would enjoy, having to rely on an EVF with focus peaking and magnification to make images? I would soon find out.

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For many folks who are planning an upgrade from an APS-C sensor camera to the A7R (i.e. you NEX users and Fuji folks), the upgrade is certainly worthwhile on several levels and difficult on a few other levels. APS-C sensors, with their cropped imaging plane, can hide many faults that would otherwise be an issue outside of the cropped field of few. Rangefinder lenses tend to have small exit pupils and provide short incident paths of light between the closest posterior lens element and senor. This and other factors, such as the chief ray angle of light bent by the lens, require a sensor, which is able to see light that’s been bent at a steep angle. If a sensor does not accommodate these matters with “offset microlenses” (i.e. hot topic word of the month), then one might expect to see quite a bit of light fall off at the periphery of the images.  Further, these steep angles can also produce shifts in color reproduction at the edges of the full frame field of view, and one can see magenta casts and other color shifts that can pollute image quality.  The Sony marketing team claims that the A7R includes offset microlenses to help address the issues described above, and the A7R was originally trumpeted as the camera to get for those of us interested in adapting our RF lenses to a full frame mirrorless solution. Did Sony work it’s magic again? Well…sort of….

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First off, I will tell you that the shooting experience of the A7R with M lenses can certainly be pleasurable. If you are a SLR shooter, you will have to adjust to using lenses with manual focus, focus peaking, and magnified views to achieve critical focus. If you are a RF shooter, you’ll have to adjust from shooting manually using the RF parallax solution to focus peaking/magnification. I have used Sony NEX cameras, and so the experience was not unfamiliar to me. It took me about a day of heavy shooting to become accustomed to the A7R’s “way of seeing the scene”. Unlike the Rangefinder, with its fixed viewfinder and frame lines, in which one can see around the field of view and predict what may be entering or exiting the scene, the A7R offers a tunnel view that’s become common and comfortable for SLR devotees. Shifting from one version of shooting to the other can be disconcerting, even more so when using RF lenses, but after about a day, I was off to the races and enjoying the experiences.

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As Steve has mentioned, focus peaking must be seen only as an aid to shooting. Unless you are shooting wide lenses or are shooting stopped down past f/4, you will likely need to use the camera’s magnified view to achieve critical focus. This can be disconcerting, as by “zooming in” while trying to grab focus, the photographer loses the framing and composition for a moment, before being able to zoom out and recompose as necessary. After a day of shooting, I felt more comfortable “zone focusing” using focus peaking, then rapidly magnifying to get critical focus before zooming back out to make the image. This method is not nearly as spontaneous as focusing using AF or rangefinder focusing, but it works and suffices to capture images that are less mobile. Shooting kids, pets, or birds, using this method is challenging, but less mobile scenes, including street scenes, are easily captured once you get used to the method of focusing. Keep this in mind when shooting the A7R.

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As I continued to shoot with the camera, one concern began to dawn on me. The shutter of this camera is loud, and it’s not very well dampened.  This is not necessarily a camera by which to shoot events that require quiet. For example, the shutter could be distracting at a wedding or quieter music venue. On the street, it’s not an issue, in terms of noise.  The vibration generated by the shutter was of concern to me while I shot. While I have no scientific way of proving it, I was worried that the vibration generated by the shutter and translated to such a compact body could make for un-sharp images, particularly when coupled with a 36- megapixel camera. To compensate, I tended to shoot at the fastest possible shutter speeds, limiting myself to shutter speeds no slower than 1/200th of a second. This is actually not a major issue, as the Sony A7R’s ISO capacity is really solid. Despite it’s high pixel count, it’s an entirely adequate and solid low light performer, doing just fine through ISO3200, and sufficient through ISO 6400. Relying on higher shutter speeds in dim settings forces one to choose high ISO’s, and this isn’t as big an issue as I worried about.

Having moved past the focusing method and shutter sound/dampening matter, I really began to enjoy the camera on the streets and at parties in all different lighting settings. I found the EVF and tiltable LCD’s to both be fantastic. I really enjoy articulated LCD’s as they offer the photographer the ability to shoot at difficult angles without guessing. That being said, whenever possible I relied on the camera’s fantastic 2.3 mp EVF, which is awesome. While it’s not quite an optical viewfinder in terms of image clarity, it has very little shutter lag and allows the photographer to see a wealth of information (shutter, aperture, histogram) at his or her discretion. It’s really a lovely tool that Sony seems to be mastering. I found the EVF and LCD to be entirely adequate for focusing and composing.

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On returning home, I downloaded Adobe Lightroom 5.3 (release candidate), which is capable of reading Sony A7R raw files, and I was greeted by a host of images of incredible detail many of which you see here. The first thing I noticed were the colors. Sony has done an incredible job to bring, vibrant, yet not over the top, life like colors to the fray. They seem to be true to the scene, and I was rapidly able to process them in a manner to look like files from my beloved CCD camera, the Leica M9 (with the added benefit of superior ISO performance, of course).  To me, this was HUGE. Having a camera with a modern sensor, putting out files comparable to my M9, was what I have been looking for and craving for years now…..and here it was.

To boot, one of the less discussed “features” of the A7R is it’s top shutter speed of 1/8000 of a setting. For fast-lens geeks like me, having this feature is amazing, as it allows us to shoot wide open in daylight, while foregoing the use of an ND filter. Lenses like th Noctilux f/0.95 can suddenly be used in daylight circumstance…a world of creative possibilities thus opens up with ultrafast lenses on the A7R!

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So was all well in the world?!? Well, in a word, NO! As I started to look around at images, I began to see a few issues with colorcast. Given the way the rangefinder lenses manipulate and bend light, I could easily see colorcasts and detail smearing at the edges of the images made with lenses wider than 28 mm. Once I pulled out my 28 mm Summicron, I was slightly more satisfied, as there was no substantial detail smearing, but the color casts, while less objectionable, remained. At times, the edges would take on a magenta hue. In other circumstances, a slightly bluish hue.  The effect seemed to be far less noticeable for 35 mm lenses such as the 35 mm f/1.4 Summilux Asph Pre-FLE and FLE, but it is still there and noticeable if shooting shots of the sky or uniformly bright, backlit scenes, such as the “foggy morning” captures presented here. What surprised me is that I found this color shifting and vignetting to be present at times even with my 50 mm f/1.4 Summilux aspherical. It turns out that M lenses are really demanding on these full frame sensors, demanding enough that Leica once claimed it to be impossible to design a full frame digital rangefinder. Well, they eventually did find away, but it took a lot of cunning, know how, and a bunch of in-camera color cast correction applied to RAW files before they ever got onto Lightroom. Unfortunately, the Sony A7R does not have such software corrections. It’s offset microlenses do not suffice to correct these color casts, so if you decide to buy this camera and shoot your RF lenses, be prepared for some frustration and to adjust your post-processing techniques to accommodate for these matters. There are programs, such as SilkyPix, a RAW converter that allow one to create lens profiles and correct such color casts. There are workarounds in Lightroom 5.3, such as using the digital graduated ND filter creatively, that help reduce the effect of these color shifts. One other issues is chromatic aberration, which tends to show itself when lenses are pitted against demanding sensors. In fact, lense such as the Noctilux f/0.95, which have known CA issues, seem to even more prone to showing CA on the A7R.  In summary if you are looking to seamlessly shoot your M lenses on the A7R, be prepared to pause.

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If you are a black and white shooter, color casts and CA won’t matter, and then it gets down to correcting for some vignetting, which is more easily accomplished within a LR workflow. IF you only shoot telephoto lenses, then you are safe with the A7R, and I would argue that you will find yourself getting far more consistent results with lenses such as the 75 mm Summilux, as the focus peaking/zoomed focus method works really well to achieve critical results here. However, if you plan to use lenses wider than 35 mm, the results can occasionally be objectionable. For photographers like me, who prefer to work between 35 mm and 90 mm focal lengths, you’ll be plenty satisfied most of the time with files coming from the A7R. It’s not a panacea for the photographically inclined, but it’s worth the effort. That being said, Sony will hopefully partner successfully with Zeiss to offer a range of high quality AF lenses in its FE lineup. At this time, there are reports that they will release as many as 15 AF FE lenses in the 2 years following the A7R’s release, and we’ll see if this holds true. For many of us, simply having a 35 mm, 55 mm, and an 85 mm lens will suffice.

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As I didn’t have these lenses on hand, I cannot comment on the A7R’s autofocus capabilities, but it seems that they will suffice for most types of shooting, save sporting events.

All in all, I found my time with the Sony A7R to be pleasurable. Was I won over? In the end, I’d answer a cautious “yes.” It produces wonderful files that are full of detail when properly exposed and captured, and in most circumstances, will give you results with which you can be proud. Just be prepared to adjust a bit in your workflow.

Thanks for taking the time to read. As you might imagine, all images presented here were taken with the A7R and a host of M and LTM lenses including the:

Leica 35 mm f/2.5 Summarit

Leica 35 mm f/1.4 Summilux Asph and FLE

Leica 50 mm f/1.4 Summilux Asph

Leica 75 mm f/1.4 Summilux

Leica 90 mm f/2 APO Summicron Asph

Canon 85 mm f/1.8 LTM

Canon 100 mm f/2 LTN

W-Nikkor 35 mm f/1.8 LTM

Nikkor S.C. 50 mm f/1.4 LTM

Nikkor H.C. 85 mm f/2 LTM

Canon 50 mm f/1.5 LTM 

Zeiss ZM 50 mm f/1.5 C-Sonnar

All the best, and enjoy life behind the shutter.

Ashwin

 

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Nov 152013
 

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Yes I Do: The Leica M240 as a wedding photographer’s tool

By Joeri van der Kloet

I have shot a lot of weddings with my M9 and M9P. Actually, buying the M9 after using Canon DSLR’s for almost ten years was a pretty good move. Before that, I only took my DSLR if I could make money with it. Not just because my kit was big and heavy, but also because I lost the fun in it. I remember visiting the Leica Gallery in New York – a year before I bought the M9 – and holding a M8 and looking through the viewfinder. My wife told me that I should try to switch to the rangefinder system, because the small camera would suit my documentary approach perfectly. I told her I couldn’t imagine myself shooting a wedding without autofocus…but I kept thinking about it.

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So now, four years later, I’m one of the few photographers shooting weddings with a rangefinder and I couldn’t be happier. The last four years have been a challenge, because I needed to learn photography again. There have been moments where I wanted to toss my M9 out of the window, but there also have been moments of pure photographical joy. I never spent so much time learning to use a camera before, but I needed to make it work. A wedding is a strange event: it is packed with beautiful moments, but most of these moments last just for a second, or even less. And I need to capture them, without zooms and without autofocus. My approach in wedding photography makes it even harder, because I shoot in a very pure, documentary style – that style justifies the use of a small camera of course – . I never stage any settings, never ask my clients to pose, so I’m completely dependent on real moments to happen. Sometimes, my clients and I visit a place to take some shots, but even then, I just let them do whatever they feel like doing. Usually, they take a walk and I follow them, trying to get the best position for a shot. I don’t ask them to kiss, or hold hands, or go to the good light, I just wait and see what happens. So if there is a quick kiss, or a sensitive moment, I need to get it. On many occasions I get the best shots when the couple walks from the church to their car. They are even less aware of the camera and they are overwhelmed by emotions, which makes it a perfect opportunity for photography.

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A few weeks ago, the bride entered the wedding venue through the back door and on her way she crossed a square with a beautiful rectangular sculpture on it. The light was perfect and I took the shot. I know my clients want these real moments in stead of the staged and posed settings that are more common. It means I really need to be able to focus very fast, also with moving subjects. And after four years, I can say that I’m starting to feel confident about it, although I haven’t even come close to mastering it. Every single wedding is very, very hard work and I’m usually exhausted after a full day of shooting. The biggest difference with a ‘non-documentary’ shooter is that I am never sure what to expect, whereas the more traditional shooter creates his own settings and takes the shots he thinks he need to take.

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Being a documentary photographer means I don’t use flash. Ever. I don’t want my clients and the guests to notice me when I’m working. I’ve covered receptions with my M9’s where the couple was dancing and I was shooting at ISO 2500, at 1.2 at 1/15th of a second. It was so dark that it was hardly possible to see something through the viewfinder. Sometimes I would focus just by muscle memory – that’s why I actually train focussing with my camera every day! – and it always worked out. Not for every image of course, but I always got the shot that I wanted. Still, I was pretty excited when the M240 was announced and reviewers reported about the high ISO capabilities of the new M. I got myself on the list and after some waiting, I was able to get one.

I didn’t need much time of practice with the new M, because it felt just like the M9. A little heavier, beefier, but much more responsive. The shutter appeared to be more silent, maybe not just in the amount of sound, but much more in the type of sound. The M240 doesn’t have the whine the M9 shutter has and the sound is shorter. Also, the feel on the shutter button is much better. With my M9, I used a soft release, but with the M240, it isn’t necessary at all. The only thing I took from my M9 is the thumbs up, because the built in one, just isn’t big enough. With my M9, I never was a machine gun shooter and neither am I with the new M, but it is very nice to have a bigger buffer when you need it. I never use the continuous mode, but sometimes I do take two or three shots in a rapid succession.

Another thing I absolutely love is the new battery. I can shoot on just one for almost a whole day, whereas with the M9, I had to change batteries twice. And I really needed to plan these moments, because you don’t want to change batteries in the middle of the ceremony. With the new M, I don’t need to worry about that.

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I heard a lot of complaints about the M9 screen, but I only used it for checking the histogram every now and then. I don’t need to check focus on my screen. First, because I usually get one chance for each moment and second, I know when I’m out of focus. The new viewfinder is even better than the old one. I don’t know what they changed, but it is somehow easier to focus.

Of course, I laughed about the live view Leica implemented. Who would need that? Well, I’ve learned and now I know there are circumstances where live view is pretty convenient. During dancing I still prefer my rangefinder, because it just works better with all the movement. However, if it is very, very dark and people are standing still, I sometimes use the VF-2, the Olympus one – I’m not a fanboy…- and I find it to work nicely. Yes, there is more shutterlag and it takes ages before the blackout is gone, but I can focus very precisely and with my 50/1.1, it is the only thing that really works. My 35/1.2 is easier to focus, because of the longer focus throw and there is just a tad more tolerance, because of the shorter focal length and the quarter stop slower aperture. When I bought the M240 I thought that I wouldn’t use the 35/1.2 any more, but I have come to like it even more than I already used to. With the new M, the 35/1.2 delivers creamy, lovely bokeh and very nice transitions and very acceptable sharpness. Also, with the new M and the 35/1.2, I can handle the worst light you can imagine. Sometimes I tell my wife that my clients must have known that I gained two extra stops, because they reduced the light with two stops, but usually, I can use faster shutter speeds than I used to. And with people dancing, that can be very convenient. Another good thing is the improved dynamic range. Now that I also switched to Lightroom 5, the difference is really big. Sometimes, the DR is even so big, the image gets a kind of HDR look, which I don’t like. Of course, it’s quite simple to lose some detail in highlights or shadows. It all comes down to taste. At least, with this combination (M240 and LR5) you have a choice.

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Yes, there is a difference between the M9 and M240 files. But you need to process them in a different way. I still love the way the M9 CCD renders and with low ISO, it is almost unbeatable. However, I don’t work for my portfolio, or for pixel peepers. I work for couples that don’t care about CCD’s and CMOS sensors. They do care for a photographer that works with a small camera and doesn’t use flash. With the M240, I can be a little more certain that I can get the shots, no matter the circumstances. And because I pay my mortgage with the money I get from my clients, that seems like a wise decision.

Getting two M240’s was not an option, simply because I’ll need to wait for at least a few months again. My M9, or M9P, features as a backup camera, but one of the new Sony’s might also be interesting, since their high ISO capacities are even better than the M240.

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I wouldn’t have bought the M240 if it wasn’t the tool I need to make a living. I was perfectly happy with the M9 as a camera for travel and general photography. And also for wedding photography. However I knew that I was using it on the limit and that a somewhat more forgiving camera could be a smart investment. On my journey around the world I used the M9’s 160 ISO setting for 99% of the many thousand pictures I took. And I love them. Seriously, if you don’t need the high ISO, you might want to check out the M9, because it might be all you need. Lots has changed in photography and – as I write this – Sony just launched the A7 and A7R for much less than the price of a used M9. If you’re just after technical image quality, this might be your camera. To me, the simple layout of a rangefinder, with everything manual, makes me happy as a photographer. I have owned the M8 for some time, as a backup for my first M9 and even though that camera is ‘technically challenged’, I just loved it, because it isn’t cluttered with buttons and stuff I don’t need or want. Some people say there is no future for rangefinder photography and that the rangefinder mechanism is not suited for fast, demanding photographic assignments. Well, I do shoot dancing people in near dark situations and I need to deliver. I hope my work proves the opposite. If you train enough, you’ll be fast enough. And when the going gets tough, the light gets bad, you’re even faster with a rangefinder…

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I’d lie if I’d say there haven’t been moments of doubt. It’s not without a reason most pro’s use fat and fast DSLR’s. They’re pretty reliable, cheaper and there’s more lenses to choose from. Also, IQ-wise it is hard to beat a modern DSLR. It is however a fact that I have shot quite a lot of assignments – also weddings – because I use this weird little camera. Believe it or not, people hire me to work with it. And in the last four years it has become my trademark. A few weeks ago I was invited at a wedding as a guest and I had a nice conversation with the wedding photographer. He didn’t know my name, but when I told him my business name, he suddenly shouted: “You’re that guy with the Leica!’. More recently, I shot a wedding for a Dutch film maker. He also owns a M9 and he really wanted me to get my documentary shots of his wedding. During the reception I managed to get very close to all the people dancing and take my shots without flash. Afterwards, the couple was very happy with the results. And when I read all these kind words and see the pictures I get with my M, I have no doubt. In the world of wedding photography, competition is fierce and working with the M and shooting my pure, documentary style, makes me stand out the crowd. And the fact is: my business is still growing.

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I have started with one on one teaching in the Netherlands where I teach Leica users to focus their lenses faster. I’m still working on a tutorial that I hopefully will finish this year. It is a very practical book with many exercises to improve your focussing, without too much technical details. I’ll let Steve know when it’s finished. He might be interested in a review…

www.luta.nl

Nov 142013
 

SOLD! A RARE Leica Mount lens. The 35 1.8 W-Nikkor LTM 

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This has now been sold! 

This is a lens that you NEVER see  go up for sale, and when you do they go quickly..so I guess I should not have said ‘Never” as they do come up from time to time. The last time I saw one for sale was from KEH.com at $1700..then just over $1500 when the price was lowered. I bought that lens, reviewed it HERE and HERE and then had offers from a few readers to buy it. So I sold it. (how many 35′s does one man need)? Many times I buy things just to write about them, and then I sell them.

It is a fantastic lens. A 35 1.8 that is about the size of a 35 Cron but with a classic look and feel. A 100% unique lens. Works fantastic on the Leica M or the MM. It will also rock out on the Sony A7 and A7r :)

The last one I sold for $1600 without case. This one has the original old school case with it, an M adapter already on it and a Leica rear cap. No front cap but one can be found to fit it easily. You can see it above on my Chrome M. A beauty and with the mix of chrome and black, it fits the camera perfectly.

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This lens is clean as a whistle, just as clean as the last one but the focus is spot on with this one. My last one was a teeny bit off.

So with the case, spot on focus and being ultra clean…you would think I would ask $1900. Nope. $1600 takes it.

So if there is anyone out there looking for this lens, it is a beauty and maybe 1-2 come up a year for sale. Very rare, very well made, very small, and a LEGEND!

I can accept credit cards, wire transfer or check (check takes a few days to clear). Ready to ship and ready to mount on your M!

Steve

A couple of quick snaps in my yard to show how it renders on the M 240.

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Also for sale:

SOLD! A Voigtlander 25 0.95 Nokton Micro 4/3 Mount lens, as new in the box. Used 3 times. $700 firm.

SOLD! Olympus 45 1.8 New in box for Micro 4/3. Unused. Black – $270. Firm. SOLD!

E-mail me HERE if interested in any of it! Last time I posted things for sale they sold within 30 minutes :)

Also, did you guys see these new Leica T shirts? These are the official designs and from Leica. Check them out!

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Nov 122013
 

Steve,

I’ve never really been a landscape kind of guy. Let’s just say that I wasn’t until my wife and I spent a week in Moab, Utah.

I’ve always been into the outdoors. I was eleven years old the first time my folks dropped my twin brother and I off in the woods and said “Hike to your aunt’s house if you get into trouble. Meet us at this spot in a week.” It was the mid 1980′s and parents had much more freedom and didn’t have to worry regarding public criticism from the media as they do today.

Backpacking and hiking have always been a passion in my life. Other outdoor hobbies have followed. I do not bring many new hobbies into my life as it is already full and I’m not willing to lessen the time with loves I already have.

The great thing about photography is that it does not interfere with the activities that I do or the adventures that I take. It compliments them.

My love and I always take at least one week-long outdoor trip per year. We fill the rest of the year with weekend trips as one week a year isn’t enough for us. On occasion I sleep out in the back yard for a quick fix.

While planning for the Moab trip my wife asked “Are you going to take some landscapes for me?” My love doesn’t feel as much passion as I do for street photography or my attempts at documentary style visual story telling. I used this opportunity to reply back “I am. But….. if we want to print the photos big I should probably invest in a wide-angle for my M9.” I still can’t believe that she agreed without hesitation or question.

I ended up purchasing a Voigtlander 28mm Ultron f2. I made sure that I went to your site and clicked the link to B&H for the purchase. I visit your site everyday and want to give back.

I must say that after spending a week in Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park I will definitely look forward to taking more landscapes. On a side note, many men ask how I get my wife to head out into the wilderness for a week at a time. I always respond…… Keep her gear light and comfortable. Keep her warm. Don’t forget to hold hands and snuggle in the tent. Tell her you love her.

A Leica M seems to be the perfect on trail, off the grid, landscape camera and here’s why I feel so:

SIZE: No explanation is really needed. Pack a DSLR on the trail with a battery grip attached and you’ll understand. On the trail no one has anything to prove. Carrying a heavy pack doesn’t make you any more tough. Have a good time. Pack light and enjoy the trip.

OPTICS: Corner sharpness? Micro contrast? I don’t really think about these concepts as I normally only care about composition and light when shooting street or documentary style. This matters when printing landscapes. I look at the landscapes I took during this trip and don’t really focus on a single subject but admire the composition as a whole. I actually look into the corners and into the details of the rocks. The quality from the M9 and M lenses amaze me.

TRIPOD: What are those for? With no mirror slap I shoot handheld. I’ve been known to shoot as slow as 1/8 of a second with my M9 in a dark bar while having pints with friends. I’m amazed that the photos actually turn out pretty sharp. I actually take a Zipshot Micro for the occasional self-portrait when on the trail. We occasionally run into people when out and about. When people ask to take our photo for us I’m nice, oblige, and hand them the camera. But….. we all know where that gets us.

CONNECTION: My buddy has a great saying “It feels right.” When I’m on the trail with a pack on, the pack feels apart of me. It feels right. When I’m on stage my guitar feels apart of me. It feels right. I hold a rangefinder to my eye with a finger on the shutter release. It feels right. Shooting a manual rangefinder feels pure. That’s also why I head out on the trail. It feels pure.

Attached are several photos from our trip. All photos were processed using Lightroom 4. I couldn’t resist converting them to black and white. I couldn’t get Ansel’s photos out of my head. My only two M lenses are a VC 28 mm Ultron and a 50 mm Summicron V4. I used both for these shots.

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You can view more of the photos at:

www.photographsbyben.com

www.photographsbybenmiller.tumblr.com

www.facebook.com/photographsbybenmiller

Thank you for keeping such a wonderful website and giving all of us something to look forward to everyday.

Cheers,

Ben

Nov 052013
 

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Leica M 240 IN STOCK! Black or Silver!

Just a heads up for anyone looking for a new Leica M 240! The Pro Shop has TWO in stock, one in each color RIGHT NOW. So if you want one, give them a call at 561-253-2606! 

Ken Hansen may have one as well but you can email him at [email protected] to find out if you miss out on the two at the Pro Shop.

Also…PopFlash has a Monochrom for under $7200 HERE

Oct 282013
 

My Thoughts on the Leica M 240

by Brett Price

TUMBLR: BRETTPRICE.TUMBLR.COM

WEBSITE: IAMBRETTPRICE.COM

Hey Steve,

Had a few articles on here before. I mentioned in those articles that I’ve been on a waiting list for the Leica M(240) for over 6 months and had not received it. Well… It finally came! I now own a Black Leica M type 240 and oh man… Its good. On a side note, I was on B&H’s waiting list for around 7 months with no luck. I took a trip into london and headed over to R.G. Lewis to check out their Leica Boutique store and after talking with them for a while I decided to drop my name from B&H and get on the list with R.G.Lewis… Had the camera in a month! They are excellent guys and the whole experience (buying internationally) which scares the hell out of me, was handled in an efficient and top-notch manner. I highly recommend them.

I’ve written two other reviews on here about Leica cameras and gear related to that. I had images from the M9 with the Zeiss Sonnar f1.5 (a lens that I found ultimately frustrating) as well as images shot on film the with Summilux 50mm ASPH on film with my M7. I don’t own the M9 anymore but I still own the Summilux and my trusty M7 and I can tell you right now that the pairing of the 240 and the Summilux is nothing short of amazing. I know you’ve written extensively on this combo before but I thought I would share a few of my own that I shot this last week at my home in Nashville, TN & on a recent trip to NYC. I don’t know why but it seems like my purchase of new Leica gear is always accompanied by a trip to NYC, not on purpose, but I’m not complaining….

I personally cannot stand DSLR’s and they almost ruin photography for me as an experience. I’ve owned a D800 for my digital setup for the last 8 or so months and I frankly hate the camera. Not because it isn’t a good camera, it’s truly a fantastic sensor and perfect suitable to take good photos but I hate it. I hate it because its easy. I hate it because its big and bulky. I hate the way people react to it when I point it in their face. I honestly cannot wait to sell and be rid of it. End rant. I consider myself a film shooter, it’s what I know and have always been able to get the best results out of. Up until recently Medium Format was my favorite format to shoot because the resolution and detail that you can get from it is fantastic and in my opinion, lenses today just don’t have the look and pop like a Hasselblad or Pentax 67. But the Leica Summilux has that look. It has that pop and glow and sharpness, I knew that even when I shot 35mm with it…

But on to the 240. Wow. So a camera with a sensor like the d800 with none of the things I hated about the M9 but everything I loved? Yes please, sign me up. I’m not a pixel peeper or worry to heavily about how each individual digital camera performs on paper. Thats why I love this site and the reviews on here because they don’t pull a “ken rockwell” and analyze with graphs and pie charts. It’s all about the images, nothing else matters, if it looks good, then it looks good. I have been nothing short of amazed about how much I like “digital” files now. I feel like it’s almost blasphemous for me to say but I finally think I’ve found a digital camera that I like as much or equally to film. Thats a big statement and I think the 240 deserves all the credit. It’s wonderful to use. Its quick, responsive, quiet, the battery lasts forever, the files look gorgeous and have so much detail and pop, and with a little tweaking they look spectacular.

I loved shooting with the camera so much I never felt the need to pull out the film camera I brought with me. I wanted to test myself to see if it gave me the same satisfaction and it definitely did. It’s a rangefinder, it’s not something most people can pick up and understand. It takes practice and effort in deliberation to get the photos you want. you can shoot off the hip like you can with an autofocus camera at some guy on the subway and hope he doesn’t notice, you’ve got to get in his face, knowingly point a camera at him and take his picture hoping he doesn’t promptly beat you up afterwards. I love that. I think effort and getting closer to things with always trump autofocus and a zoom lens any day. I enjoyed shooting with it so much that I’m going to sell a few of my film systems to afford a Summilux 35mm ASPH v1. A lens I played with at B&H and really loved. (I also tried the FLE and didn’t love it. Aside from price I felt like the v1 had the same look as my 50lux and the FLE looked much harsher, to each his own…)

To sum this write up…up? I’ll say that for those of you who liked the M9, you’d love this camera, all the kinks have been worked out. Trust me. My only annoyances with it at first were WB issues (fixed with latest firmware) and the dumb M button. Just let me program it to be some other button please. I don’t want to auto shoot video. Ever. Actually, it would be hugely awesome if it was a temporary spot meter button… just press and you meter the rangefinder patch only. Are you listening Leica???

And for those of you who I’m sure will ask. I’ll never stop shooting film… but I might shoot it less now…

Anyway, I hope you all like the images with follow this post.

For all the tech-heads out there here are some details:

-Leica M240 w/ Summilux 50mm ASPH

-Processed in Lightroom 5

-VSCO film presets. Usually Portra 800HC/400 or Tri-X 400++ or Ilford Delta 3200

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