Aug 082014
 

Canon AE-1

By Shane Caut

Hi Steve and Brandon,

I thought I would write a submission highlighting some of the beauty of Australia captured on a Canon AE-1 Program film camera.

To begin with I am a novice when it comes to photography and have only started working at this passion the last year or so, so I know I still have a lot to learn. Your site has been a constant source of inspiration and information, which I have keenly absorbed and so I wanted to share my progress.

My first serious camera purchase was a Leica M8. I was all set to start with a Fuji X body, when I was shown a used Leica M8 in the camera store and I was hooked. The M8 seemed to make so much sense to me and I did not get lost in all the gadgetry that other digital cameras can provide. I love how the M8 taught me the basics of setting the ISO, shutter speed and aperture. What more could anyone need?! I started with the Voigtlander 35mm f2.5 color skopar lens and it is certainly a great value for money lens. Wanting to try a wide-angle, I purchased a 24mm f2.8 FDn lens which I thought I could adapt to the M8 and focus using zone focusing. This worked fine, but that lens just did not belong on that camera. I then did some research and decided to try the lens on a body it was designed for. This led me to the Canon AE-1 Program. This camera is a delight. It is simple to use, ergonomic, quite small for a slr, and can be purchased for less than $100.

I fitted the lens to the body and took it on a trip to Melbourne. Some of the results are below. The other shots are from the streets and beaches of Adelaide.

I have used a few different films in my fledging film endeavour: Velvia 100, Ilford FP4, Ektar 100, and Portra 400. All have their own unique signature, and to my eye provide a depth of character difficult to recreate on digital. I am now hooked on film, and switched my Leica M8, which I did love and will always be thankful for purchasing, for a Leica M3. The M3 is in another stratosphere to the other cameras, and is hard to put down once you start hearing that almost silent click of the shutter release and experience that super smooth advance lever. I now have a nice balance of the M3 with a Canon 50mm f1.4 ltm lens and the Canon with the 24mm.

I hope readers enjoy the photos and feel free to provide any critical advice.

I have just started a flickr site here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/125897175@N08/

Kindest regards,
Shane

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Jun 252014
 

Still enjoying my Leica M8

By Jochen Utecht

Dear Steve,

It has been a while since you published my latest “inspirational” email (http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2014/01/14/daily-inspiration-494-by-jochen-utecht/). This time I would like to share a few images taken with my Leica M8, which I love and hate at the same time. If I had to decide which camera to keep, it would be the Fujifilm X100s. But the M8 is capable of outstanding quality. It only is a slow and quirky device, which sometimes is a good thing.

You can hardly push the ISO beyond 640. There is too much noise showing up. Focusing often takes too much time for snapshots. But prefocusing can make looking through the viewfinder obsolete. Compared to the X100 it is a heavy piece of metal. But it feels soo good!

I don´t have Leica lenses, because I am by no means rich if money matters. But I could get hold of a few nice lenses second hand:
Voigtländer 21/4, VC 15/4.5, Minolta 28/2.8 and Minolta 40/2.0. The Minolta´s are the same in quality as Leica glass. And the 15/4.5 is fantastic. Very sharp lens. I use the 21 and the 28 most of the time.

Usually I shoot RAW (DNG). The wide-angle lenses from Voigtländer get a treatment with CornerFix first. Then I develop a bit with Photoshop (Camera Raw). After that I go into Picasa and make some adjustments to the jpg´s. (First I try the I´m-feeling-lucky-button) That works well enough for me at least.

VC 21/4, edited in PS (correction of converging lines)

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They don´t earn much money, but are really childloving people.
Minolta 28mm/2.8, prefocused image.

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The forbidden city is always a joy to walk around. I usually hate images taken from behind. They are cowardish and mostly don´t say anything than that the photographer was there and didn´t have the guts to ask for permission. But sometimes you cannot do anything else and the picture still works.
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The same goes for this one. This Panorama was also with the 21/4. I stitched it from 6 portait-style images. There is barely any distortion in the VC21/4, so PS didn´t have problems putting it together. I don´t mind that some people appear as doublettes. Next time I might bring a tripod and blur the people.

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First of all I asked for permission to take a picture of these beauties. After a posing picture was taken they immediately went back to watching their smartphones and I could capture the scene I had been seeing before.
Minolta 28/2.8

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Sometimes you get nice results if you hand the M8 to a stranger to have your picture taken. This was on the first of May. I even had to tell that chinese fellow which button to press, but made the settings prior to handing the camera over. It would have been a fun pic if my face had been replacing Mao. I will try that next time. That might not be possible with a rangefinder camera though.
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I hope you enjoyed the pictures and if you don´t want to show all 6 pictures, feel free to choose three of them.

Thanks, Jochen
5intheworld.de

Apr 212014
 

Learning to See Again With the Leica M8

by Craig Litten

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I started shooting with a pseudo-rangefinder camera, the Fuji X-Pro1, in 2013, and shed the weight and bulk of my DSLR’s forever. I love and still use the X-Pro1, but I’ve wanted a Leica M6 rangefinder for over 20 years. The problem is, the M6 uses film. Film is wonderful, but it’s no longer convenient, nor is it cheap. True, you can buy a lot of film for the price of a digital Leica M, but don’t forget about the inconvenience of film. Pro photo labs have disappeared for the most part, prints are no longer done in the darkroom–and if they are, you must pay an extraordinary premium. I say “extraordinary” because it used to be fairly cheap to get a high-quality, fiber based B&W wet print (made in a real darkroom), but not any longer. There is also no lab to process the film. For years I processed my own B&W film, but I no longer own the tanks and reels, nor do I really have the time.

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So a few months ago, I purchased a used Leica M8 (M8.2 to be exact) from a friend who has since upgraded to the Leica M (Type 240)–Leica’s latest. Now I have a true rangefinder, and I’m enjoying the total rangefinder experience: manual focusing, manual exposure, a real shutter speed dial, a real, mechanical aperture ring, and a real rangefinder window. And believe it or not, once you learn how to use it, you can do things like exposure and focus faster and more accurately than with all-electronic cameras. I’m not quite there yet, but it gets easier every time I use the M8. With the Leica, I can always see what shutter speed and aperture I have set (even when it’s off), and the camera is always ready. It’s small, built like a M4 Sherman tank, and it’s incredibly discrete for street photography. So far, the only people who have noticed me while out shooting are people who know what a Leica is, and then they strike up a conversation. Otherwise, I’ve never been so ignored in all my years of street photography. Being ignored while doing street photography is a good thing.

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This brings me around to the main point of this article: learning to see again. As you can clearly see, not one photo above has people in it. Ninety-five percent of what I normally shoot, whether for work or personal use, has people in it. I’m a people shooter; yes, I shoot people. But since I got the M8, it has changed the way I feel when photographing, and the way I am seeing the world around me. Everything around me has become art. Rangefinder cameras by nature force you to slow down and think. You cannot focus as close as with a DSLR or mirrorless camera, and you no longer look through the lens, so there is a thing called parallax error at certain distances (in other words, your subject doesn’t always line up exactly where you framed it). I call this serendipity and I love it. I feel like I have too much control over my frame anyway, which comes from years of photojournalism training and thousands of assignments, so less accurate framing of my subject is fine with me. The camera is also much slower to write images to the card, which is also perfectly acceptable because I shoot far fewer shots with it. Sometimes I only shoot one frame of a given scene, whereas before, I usually shoot several.

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Surprisingly, for a camera as old as the M8, the image quality is astonishing. Leica lenses, which are second to none, might have something to do with that of course. Color can be a bit tricky, but when you nail it, it’s stunning and very Kodak Kodachrome looking–the best color film ever made. And the black & white produced from the M8’s sensor is very film-like. Grain starts to show up at ISO 320, which is great because I love grain. High ISO is basically non-existent, but so what, some of the world’s best photographers survived their entire careers shooting Tri-X, which is ISO 400 film.

Give one a try! The Leica Store Miami has a test drive program that is very reasonable. Ask for Peter; he’ll be glad to help you. If you’ve never shot with a rangefinder such as a Leica M, be prepared for a learning curve, but it gets easier, and it’s a lot of fun. Finally, when out shooting on the streets, don’t forget to “see” what else is around you. Don’t be so focused on looking like Winogrand and miss the Sam Abell moments all around you.

Please come join me for a street photography workshop this year. Go to http://www.street-photography-workshops.com for more info.

Apr 112014
 

The legend : A Leica story

By Yves Oliver

I am an enthusiast 47 years old photographer. I live in Belgium, so forgive me for my possible bad english. But first, before the pictures, a true Leica story….or how I finally bought an M8.

Back to…1944 !

My father was a 12 years old boy and passionate about…photography. In 1944, that meant a foldable 6×9 Zeiss Nikon and, of course, black and white film. Living in a village in South Belgium, he was by far the only guy aware of photography. It was the end of the Second World War in Europe and the Germans were going back home. A German troop stopped in the village and an officer spent the night in my father’s house. He had a Leica (probably Leica III). It was the brand new top camera at the time coming from Germany : shiny, tiny and easy to use with 35mm film. My father had his eyes wide open. The next morning, the soldier left to join his troop and….forgot his camera on the kitchen table. My father was dying to keep it without a doubt ! These were dangerous time, the Germans were nervous because they were losing the war and the family could have been accused to have stolen the camera. You could be shot for nothing. “Too dangerous” said my grandmother who forced his son to run after the officer and give him the Leica back. You have to imagine the fear of the young boy among enemy soldiers, and his disappointment for holding a dream camera for a few seconds before giving it back.

10 years later, he had become an engineer and with his very first pay, he bought a Rolleicord 6×6. At the time, if you shot sport or actualities you used Leica, if you shot landscape you used Rollei. Simple. That was before Japanese cameras. He travelled, so he chose Rollei, but in his heart, he never forgot the Leica he once dreamed about during the war. He continued with Rollei, then Exacta, later with Olympus but never with Leica.

15 years later, he had a boy (me) and give him the photography virus. I learned with him, spent time in the darkroom with black and white prints, and with the years, I owned different cameras from Minolta to digital Nikon. When he died, I gave most of his old gear to a famous photography museum (except the Rolleicord I still use !). A part of my life had gone with him but I knew something was missing to close the circle . He had told me the story many times and, as a child, I also dreamed about the “legendary Leica from the war”. In memoriam to him, for my pleasure, and for the father and son dream could finally come true, I bought a used silver M8 with a Summicron 35 for my 45th anniversary. A real gem, he would have been happy for me.

I now have a 5 years old daughter who began shooting with a cheap Coolpix. I wander if the name of Leica will still mean something for her in twenty years…

Yves Oliver

Pictures on Flickr : www.flickr.com/photos/51484580@N07

General website : www.yvesoliver.com

Book : www.blurb.fr/user/yvesoliver

Now, some of my pictures (Leica M8 + Summicron 35 mm, all processed with Silver Fx Pro)

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Phil & Nils L 14

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Mar 062014
 

Buying Leica M8 in London – First experiences

by Ruben Laranjeira

Hi Steve, I am Ruben from Portugal and I have 28 years old. I visit your site every day, since late 2008. And you have influenced me to be passionate about Leicas, and Leica look in photos.

So here I am, 5 years later, ready to buy my first Leica. Due to Leica high prices, I have chosen to buy a used Leica M8 in London, and a new Voigtlander 40mm 1.4.

This is a short story about a dream come true.

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Since I began searching for photography and for photo machines, it didn’t take to long until my search got into stevehuffphoto site.

This site amaze me since my first contact with its very best articles on internet about real photography. For amateur/enthusiastic/professional people interested in photography and it’s gear. We can find here very precise technical information, and principally how to get passion about this form of art.

So since 2008 I knew I want a good-looking camera, with strong capabilities to turn my day by day pictures into something memorable. I ended buying a canon 50d and started shooting inside water the surfers riding waves. But I knew one day my little Leica would ended on my hands. This moment appears when I realized that used Leicas on eBay, and no Leica lenses was cheaper than I thought.

So I tried to put all together and planed not to buy that online, but buy than in London.

One month planning the trip with my girlfriend, reading every single day every article about M8 or M8.2, about voightlander wide-angle or 40mm, etc etc… So my plan was first get the lens, and then get the camera, because I can’t imagine have a Leica in my hands for a second with no lens attached.

Ok, voigtlander 40mm 1.4 lens with me, let’s get to the Leica dealer. Two nice cameras to choose, one mint condition 1600 actuation M8 and one 36000 actuation M8.2 with strong sings of use and 200 dollars cheaper. For what I read online, I have chosen the M8.2 with 6 month warranty.

I never had used range finder in my life, or manual focus, but my first shoot wide open, on a LFI magazine was easy and in focus. So I have thought, so far so good! Let’s do the payment and get outside with this beautiful day in London.

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With this camera I really feel the inspiration to record the best moments I will find trough my life, and I can get the camera inside my coat easily with no big monster point to people’s faces. I have found this camera really easy to use, even with the big ISO issues, but you can do just awesome B&W when the colors are not good. I have used aperture priority on almost all the frames and tried to put ISO160.

All the photos have little LR process, some B&W haven’t nothing to retouch.

I found the photos super sharp, and you can see the CCD Leica look, and you can get beautiful black and white pictures. The camera is not perfect but “After all, a photograph that is technically perfect that has no soul isn’t memorable.”

The next photos shows you a little what I got with my very first experience in RF world with the best RF you can get in a big beautiful city with a beautiful girlfriend as a model.

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Curiosity Numbers:

The prices are around 1900$ US for the used Leicas M8’s

Voigtlander SC 40mm 1.4: 459$ New

I bought a new Leica batery for 150$

first day: 66 photos

second day: 59 photos

3th day: 30 photos

Focus missed: 15

 

And here is some of my other work:

https://www.facebook.com/clickbyuriel

Jan 152014
 

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USER REPORT: The 35mm Voigtländer Nokton f/1.2 ASPH II meets the Leica M8.

By Elie Bescont

Hi Steve,

Opening this review section was a really good idea. I discovered very talented people here lately, like Neil Buchan-Grant who stroke me with his review about the OM-D E-M5 and E-M1. His portraits are amazing. Brett Price, also, delivered fantastic vintage looking images in his review about the M240. Bravo.

A few months back, I read your review about the 35mm Voigtländer Nokton f/1.2 ASPH II lens. You seemed to like it, and you made me want this piece of glass, because it’s a f/1.2 lens which delivers quite good images for a fraction of the price of the 35 Lux 1.4.

So, it’s done. I got it for around six months now, I shot thousands of pictures with it in France, Australia, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Japan, and I’m ready to share my thoughts about this lens. I decided to buy it after reading a review about it on this website, so I thought I should debrief about it here. Of course, since this is about the 35 Nokton 1.2 ASPH II and since I shoot it on the M8, all pictures of this review were taken with this combo. Here we go.

First remark, it’s quite a big lens for a rangefinder camera:

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Bigger than the 35 Lux 1.4 Yanidel uses:

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And nothing like my tiny 35 Summaron f/3.5 my girlfriend Marie shots on her M2:

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Still, it’s way smaller than a DSLR lens and its size is not a problem at all. I’ve been carrying it with me everyday for around six months and it was never bothering to do so.

Second remark, the finish is not that good. The paint goes away very easily, and ‘lens made in Japan’ quickly became ‘lens made in apan’. I don’t know that country. The ‘1.4’ indication on the aperture ring disappeared after three months of using this lens. But is it that bad? I could just get some white paint and get it fixed quickly, and considering the price of the lens, I prefer it to have a bad finish than a bad image quality or bad ergonomics.

And talking about this… Third remark, this lens feels really good in hands. Focus is smooth and easy, the aperture ring clicks, everything about this lens feels just right. Actually, it feels like having a Leica lens in hands. According to some friends who got the first version, this second one has a way better feeling.

The other important point is image quality. I use it on the M8 without an IR-cut filter and I fix eventual chromatic aberrations on Adobe Lightroom. As you may know, the sensor of this camera doesn’t have any IR-cut filter on it. The M8 sees the infrared spectrum, and this can cause chromatic aberrations. Black synthetic clothes look purple under artificial light, for instance. So, why do I use this camera without any IR-cut filter? As the camera sees infrared, its spectrum is not red + green + blue, but infrared + red + green + blue. As a consequence, the Leica M8 is one of the best digital cameras for black and white photography, because infrared adds dynamics in greys that other cameras can’t possibly get. Well, that’s all about the camera, now let’s talk about the lens. Images at f/1.2 are not razor-sharp, but you have to take in account the fact that this is a f/1.2 lens wide open. So, I think they are sharp enough. And you? This is a portrait of a random guy I don’t know, at f/1.2:

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Marie and the cat, big time, at f/1.2:

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A friend, Stan, at f/1.2 and ISO320, 1/45th:

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At f/1.4, it gets sharper. The portraits of Yanidel and Marie with her M2 above were shot at 1.4. Another one at 1.4, a portrait of Didier Bourdon, a famous French humorist:

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Colors are nice, the contrast is good, sharpness is there, the bokeh is quite nice, for around 1/4th of the price of a 35mm Summilux. I’m very happy with it, and even if it’s big for a rangefinder lens, it’s still small. Remember, rangefinder lenses are tiny. So, it’s a pretty good travel lens.

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But let’s get back to the jazzy city of Paris for the last ones:

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And a final bokehlicious picture:

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Here is what you can get with this lens.

Let’s summarize a little bit. Pros and cons:

+ It’s cheap for a 35mm f/1.2 lens.

+ It feels good and looks solid.

+ Good image quality for such a price.

 

– It’s big and quite heavy compared to other RF lenses.

– The finish is pretty bad, even if the lens looks good.

 

That’s all folks! I hope you enjoyed this review, and if you got this lens, I hope you agree with me on this. If you liked the pictures, you can follow me:

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DigitalFragrancePhotography

On Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/92813485@N05/

On Tumblr: http://digital–fragrance.tumblr.com/

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/ElieBescont

Or in the streets, but don’t scare the shit out of me.

Farewell and all the best,

Elie

May 242013
 

270084TheOriginalMonochrom

The Original Monochrom: The Leica M8 by Elie Bescont

Hi Steve, congrats on your new Leica M240 camera and thank you for having me writing outrageous crap on your wonderful website. Apologies to everyone for wasting your precious time, I am really sorry you chose to read this particular boring article that mainly deals with black and white photography.

To begin with, I would like to politely introduce myself: my name is Elie, I am 24 and I’m into photography for not that long. Like all other French people, I am an arrogant bastard and like all other Leica M users, I am quite handsome:

A self-portrait, hands down:

Leica M8 + 35mm Leitz Summaron f/3.5, ISO160, wide open, 1/30th.

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I would define myself as a street photographer, as I mainly use my gear for street photography, but I’m open to everything else. Actually, when I got my first camera only one year and a half ago (which was a little Lumix FS16), the only interesting use I could think of it was to photograph unknown people in the streets. Today, I just do the same thing but I use a more appropriate and traditional tool: a Leica M camera.

 

I don’t see photography as a way to capture reality, I see it as a powerful way to transform it, making it more dramatic. Thus, I mainly shoot black and white (well, that’s not literally right. I shoot color and transform my photos into black and white using Adobe Lightroom 4 and Silver Efex Pro 2).

Some of you may ask why I chose a Leica M camera, and I will answer this very good question right away. I chose it because a Leica M (from the M3 to the M240) is the best tool ever (according to ME) to keep in touch with reality, and I think it’s a good thing if your goal is to transform reality to keep things up with it. Also, it is small and not imposing.

And this is what “not imposing” means, for those who may not know:

 

“A smile to the unknown”

Leica M8 + 35mm Leitz Summaron f/3.5, ISO160, wide open, 1/250th.

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Some people think that it is virtually impossible to capture fast-moving objects with a Leica M because everything is manual on these cameras. It IS possible. Your camera cannot do it, so YOU can, or YOU can’t. If you can’t, just train a little bit. The only thing you have to do is to forget this little focusing patch in the middle of the viewfinder. You KNOW where your fingers are, so you know what’s on focus.

Leica M8 + 35mm Leitz Summaron f/3.5, ISO160, wide open, 1/1500th.

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Well… At this point, you may have noticed some little things about me: I’m stuck with ISO160 (I feel better this way), I shoot with a Leica M8 and a wide open 35mm Leitz Summaron f/3.5 from 1955, and I steal almost all my photographs. Even when I shoot a self-portrait, I try to steal it.

I like to give some info on my pictures when I post them, but now you know that I shoot ISO160, wide open with a Leica M8 and a 35mm f/3.5 Summaron, so I will only give you the shutter speed.

Why black and white? Well, it’s not that I don’t feel comfortable with colours…

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… It’s just that black and white photographs are just stronger to me, more expressive and more beautiful. And the Leica M8 is a GREAT camera for black and white photography. I love the work of classic photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau. It’s not only the beauty of the captured scenes that fascinates me, it’s also this powerful contrast. A powerful contrast you can easily get with old Leica lenses like the Summaron.

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The Leica M8 has a nice advantage for you, street shooters: it’s not a full frame camera. Yes, it can be an advantage. Like many street photographers, I like to shoot 50mm. So I put a 35mm lens on my cropped M8, that allows me to shoot 46.55mm (almost 50mm) with a small, discrete 35mm lens. It’s smaller and lighter than a 50mm lens, and the combo holds in my pocket.

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I met a lot of people complaining about how Leica cameras and lenses are expensive. One day, I was having a drink on a terrasse, and a man, smoking his cigarette, asked me why I had a 4300€ camera. I don’t smoke. I don’t spend thousands in cigarettes every year, I never did. Instead, I have a Leica camera wich will never give me cancer. Yeah, the Monochrom is quite expensive, the 50 Lux too. But do you really need it? Look:

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All the pictures you can see in this article were taken with a combo that costs around 1600€ nowadays. So you black and white lovers, if you think that the Monochrom is too much expensive for you, try the original Monochrom: the Leica M8.

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I tried the new Fuji cameras, also. They are nice, small cameras but the feeling of it is nothing like a Leica M camera. If you need a small camera but don’t have the money for a Monochrom, even for a M-E, before you fall for one of the new Fuji, try the M8. Make yourself this favour, it truly is a great camera.

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Most people tend to think today that they need the latest Leica body and lenses, and that they will never be able to enjoy taking pictures (and I mean taking incredibly good pictures) with something like the M8 and a Leitz lens from the 50’s. If your pictures are not amazing, please, don’t blame the 6000€ camera and the 4000€ lens. Maybe you don’t need it. Maybe you just need to go out and take more pictures. Maybe you just need a small but efficient camera and a good lens if you want to shoot black and white, and maybe you should try the M8 and one of these fine old Leica lenses from the 50’s or the 60’s. Maybe you won’t like it and maybe you will feel more comfortable with something like a Fuji camera, and it’s fine. The really important thing is to enjoy taking pictures. And it’s even better if the pictures are good.

I will now post more pictures of this amazing combo:

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Well, we are in 2013 and the M8 is still an amazing camera, like all the other Leica M cameras. My 35mm f/3.5 Summaron is 58 years old now, and it is still an incredibly good lens. The price of the M8 dropped quite a bit lately, and you may consider getting one of these precious “original Monochrom” cameras for yourself. What are you waiting for? Try one out and fall in love. Welcome to the Leica world!

Thank you Steve, once again, thanks to all of you for reading this. I hope some of you have learnt something helpful, and I hope you enjoyed my photographs. If you have any questions, just post a comment, I will try to give you a clear answer quickly. If you want to see more of my pictures, follow me or whatever, here you go:

https://www.facebook.com/DigitalFragrancePhotography
www.flickr.com/photos/92813485@N05/
http://digital–fragrance.tumblr.com/

Nov 032012
 

From Steve: Wow, look at this B&W quality from the old tried and true and quirky M8. The M8 always ha da great B&W quality about it and if you think about it, you could find a used M8 and use it as a Monochrom camera if you never want to shoot in low/dim light. The only thing holding it back is ISO and lack of full frame but the results from the M8 are always….classic. Thanks Vincent!

Hi Steve,

It’s been 13 years since I’ve welcomed our daughter to this world. Ever since that moment I am in a constant awe. Maybe that sounds a bit exaggerated to you or the many readers of your awesome site, but I can assure you that it’s a genuine statement. As your life is in a constant flux everything is impermanent, so is your parenthood. It’ being confronted with a new-born that you realize how fast it’s changing. A dear friend of mine gave birth to a beautiful baby boy recently and she not only gave me the opportunity to take photographs of their 5 days old child, but also asked me to use them for their birth announcement card. Obviously, that has been quite an honor to do. As I was taking pictures of their child, I had a flashback to the time that our daughter was a baby. Words cannot describe how your life changes when you become a parent. It’s not about being more happy or having a more fulfilling life. It’s just different…..and just….awesome.

The pictures are shot with my ‘old’ but trusty Leica M8 with the Voigtlander 75mm 1,8. Processed from RAW in Capture One and used with the Rollei Retro preset in DxO Filmpack 3. Hope you like it and good and inspiring enough to publish it on your site!

Regards,

Vincent van Kleef

 

Aug 152012
 

Dear Steve,

As a loyal reader of your site, I’d like to offer my thoughts on a digital vintage – The Leica M8.

We consumers/photo enthusiasts have the tough job of chasing the latest camera technology with our wallets and savings. We are always tempted to look ahead (M10, anyone?), and easily leave behind great machines that are barely 1 or 2 years old.

Case in point: Leica M8, a controversial product released by Leica way back in ’06 that was conveniently forgotten soon after M9 came out.

A month ago I had to send in my M9 to repair due to “chipped coating on the sensor” (sign of digital life span?) after just one year in possession. I needed an interim substitute that could offer me the same M-series built and handling. For the price of an X2, I purchased an M8 in pristine condition (thanks to dedicated Leica collectors in HK).

Immediately I felt connected to M8, because it was so similar to M9 in terms of look and handling.

Here are things about M8 I liked:

– 1.3 crop factor (not full frame, but still beats any mirrorless out there today)

– Interchangeable lens

– Rangefinder-style focusing (no need for EVF or LCD display)

– Leica M-series solid built and minimalistic handling

– Acceptable ISO up to 640, which in reality has ISO 800 sensitivity

– ISO 160 image quality almost as good as M9

– Same battery as M9, which means the camera could live on if M9 or Monochrom remain in production

 

And a couple of functions I wish M9 had retained from M8:

– Bigger text display on the menu pages

– dedicated battery indicator

I recently traveled to Locarno, Switzerland, and brought my M8 along with Pre-ASPH 35mm Summilux. The combo produced stunning images. I’d like to share some with you and your readers. With the imminent arrival of M10, the price of M8 will probably continue to fall. I urge anyone who’d like to get into the world of rangefinder photography to pick one up. f you are interested in viewing more of my pictures, please go to my website: www.dingyuinshan.com

Cheers,

Shan Ding

From Steve:

Don’t forget that the M8 requires the use or IR/UV filters for each lens you use on the camera! These are a MUST with the M8 if you want the correct color and IQ.

Jan 162012
 

 

USER REPORT: Vintage Glass is Fun
a Mini-Review of a 1961 Leica 90mm Elmarit f/2.8
by Amy Medina – DangRabbit Photography
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Nothing too technical here, I just wanted to share my delight with a recent lens I got for my upcoming birthday (yes, I got my gift early!). It’s an old version 1 of the 90mm Elmarit, and what a joy it’s turning out to be.
I’ve wanted a 90 for quite a while, ever since last year when I found myself in a situation where the 50 just wasn’t long enough and there was no way to get closer with my feet. Two very interesting fellows were sitting in chairs conversing on the other side of small boat canal, and I only wished to have something longer to capture more of their wonderfully interesting personalities.
So I finally decided to take a chance with this old Elmarit. While I’d love a newer one, it’s just not in the budget for me.
It arrived on Thursday morning and I immediately set out to give it a try… down to a favorite marina on a misty day. This is one of my first shots with the lens, wide open, of a favorite subject:

 

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This old Elmarit renders in a very classic way, with focus-fall-off that isn’t harsh or dramatic, but silky smooth. Wide open, the lens is surprisingly sharp. Contrast is more of what you’d expect in an old classic like this — the contrast is not at all punchy  — but lets face it, in the digital age we can always give contrast a little boost in post if necessary. It has a fantastic character about it, the way an old Summitar does (but the bokeh isn’t swirly). Straight out of the camera, the files have a vintage look to them, not in color, but in their rendering… and it takes to a retro-style post-processing treatment quite nicely.

 

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The downside is that the lens is quite prone to flare. Though I didn’t get a hood with the lens, I’ve heard it actually makes little difference, and since it’s a bit long already without the hood, I’m not sure I’d use it anyway. It is something to be aware of though. The flare is of the soft hazy kind.
The lens isn’t heavy, but as mentioned, long. You can see in the photo of my camera with the lens mounted, it’s almost silly looking… almost. Focus is smooth, and the throw isn’t too long. Adjusting focus with the Elmarit is quite comfortable and easy, though with any 90 you’ll want to be sure your rangefinder mechanism is aligned properly. Luckily, mine is spot on, even after almost 5 years. I love my M8.

Also, focusing can be a little challenging with a long lens like this. I have a 1.25 magnifier screwed onto my M8 and it really does help in a big way. And I have one of the cheaper, “from Hong Kong” magnifiers I got on EBay and it works a charm.

 

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Overall, for under $400 I am thrilled with this star-of-a-lens… and it’s a gem worth exploring if your budget doesn’t allow for a more modern 90, or if you just want to try some vintage Leica glass. I’ve been having a ball with it for the last four days, and though I was a little worried 90mm might be long for every-day use, it’s proving to be just a new focal length to explore, and a fun one at that.

 

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and Follow me…
Thanks for reading and looking!
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Jan 132012
 

Let It Snow!

By Allen Liu

Hi Steve,

Hope you had a great new year!

Here is my second blog entry to your great site (you can find my first blog entry about my trip to Hong Kong here…).

A few weeks ago, Julie and I decided to spend our winter vacation in Montreal, QC. I was particularly excited about this decision; living in California, I had never experienced a “white Christmas” before.

For the first few days there, the sky was clear, and temperatures dipped below freezing. We were actually a bit disappointed because we really wanted to see snow (I know people who need to shovel snow out of their driveways all winter long are secretly hating me now).

Then, on the last day of our trip, our prayers were answered.

A tiny Christmas miracle.

It snowed.

All photos are shot with one camera and one lens then post processed by Silver Efex Pro 2.

Please feel free to visit my Montreal album 

I hope you enjoy them.

Allen

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Dec 272010
 

The Leica M8 vs The Sony NEX-5 with the Leica 50 Summarit Lens

Happy Monday to all, and again, Happy Holidays! Today I decided to do a quick comparison between two cameras that are still pretty hot. The Leica M8 and the Sony NEX-5. Many say the NEX-5 is a better buy than the older M8 because with the Sony you can use an Adapter to mount Leica M lenses and from what I have been hearing, many are saying that this yields better results than using the Leica M8. First off, shooting these cameras will bring you two TOTALLY different experiences. With the M8 I can shoot MUCH faster and with superb precision over the NEX-5 with the same lens via an adapter. The M8 is a rangefinder and the NEX-5 as we all know, is NOT.

I also know there have been articles here and there about the NEX-5 with Leica glass, but this time I wanted to see the NEX go head to head against the M8 in regards to image quality using the same lens.

So this comparison is only about image quality. Is the NEX-5 capable of better image quality than the M8? It does have more megapixels at 14 vs 10. It does have better high ISO performance as well but the M8 has the advantage (or so it seems) because it does not have an AA filter, so we should get more detail from an M8 shot than a NEX-5 shot with the same glass, right? Or is it ALL BOUT THE GLASS?

I wanted to find out! So thanks to SLR Magic who sent me their very well made Leica M to Sony NEX Adapter, I was able to try yet another Leica lens on my NEX-5. Also, thanks to Leica Dealer Ken Hansen I was able to shoot the M8 along with the 50 and 90 Summarit lenses. He sent them to me to try out for a while since I never reviewed the 50 or 90 Summarits lenses, so that was VERY cool of him! Ken seems to always have used M8’s in stock as well as the Summarit lenses, and he always has amazing service and prices. If you are looking for any new or used Leica, send him an email at [email protected] and he will get back with you pretty fast.

OK! On to the pics!

First, a straight comparison. These two images are full size files out of the camera from RAW. No PP involved. What do you see between the two?

First up, The M8 file…click on the image for the full size version – 50 Summarit at F4

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now the file from the NEX-5 and 50 Summarit at F/4

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In the images above it seems the NEX-5 edges are TEENY BIT softer than the M8 (when viewing the full size image at 100%) but the NEX-5 is still pretty detailed and sharp. This is not meant to be a good picture, just a test shot. Plus, it was mid day and the AZ sun is pretty hard. Still we can see the same image shot with each camera and the same lens.

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Here is one more comparison between the two using the same 50 Summitar lens. In this one, the M8 file seems much sharper when viewing the full size file. Each camera has the 50 Summarit mounted and I shot these at f2/5

First the M8 file…

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and the NEX-5 file…

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In this one the M8 file is sharper and more vibrant with much more detail. This was all it took for me to see that the M8 is superior in regards to detail and even color. Also, the shooting experience for me was funner and faster with the M8. You do lose the high ISO capability, you lose the size advantage as the NEX is tiny, and you lose all of the whiz bang features of the NEX. Also, you would lose some cash. A used M8 is usually around $2200-$2600. Add the Summarit lens and you are at about $3600-$3800. The NEX-5 is $649 with a 16mm lens. Add adapter and lens and you would be at $2200 total. Still a load of cash huh?

One more quick “for fun” comparison…

First is from the Leica M8 with 50 Summitar at F/2

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Now the NEX-5 with 50 Summarit at F/2.5

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I did not add the M9 to this test because I usually see people comparing the NEX-5 to the M8. Yes the NEX can use Leica glass and YES it can provide awesome results, but the old M8 still stands above it just a bit for flat out IQ IMO. The NEX-5 and Leica glass combo is still pretty sweet though and the 50 Summarit lens is great on the camera. This is Leicas cheapest lens (that you can buy new) at about $1400 and it is a great little 50. It reminds me a little of the 50 Summicron but with a more modern signature. I still have not found a Leica lens I did not love :)

Below are a few more snapshots from both cameras.

NEX-5 – 50 Summarit – F/2.5

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NEX-5 – 50 Summarit – F/2.5

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Leica M8

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Leica M8 at ISO 1250

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Leica M8 and 50

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Both camera combos offer great IQ and the Sony color can be very rich and deep when using Leica glass. But for me, the shooting experience goes to the Leica M8 and the overall versatility goes to the NEX combo. I like ‘em both!

Again, thanks to Ken Hansen for sending me the M8 and lenses to try out for this test. I believe this used M8 that he sent me is for sale and it’s in perfect condition, box and all. If interested email him at [email protected] and ask him about the M8 I have right now. Ken is a great guy and he doesn’t pay me to mention him.

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May 282010
 

It’s about time for another travel article and who better to give it to us thank Ashwin Rao? This time he takes us on his “American Southwest” vacation, in words and images. Thanks Ashwin!


Traveling Through The Four Corners and American Southwest – Camera in Hand…

By Ashwin Rao

Hi again, fellow Steve Huffites! It’s Ashwin, coming to you with another travel journal. Today, I bring you a setting a bit closer to my home, but seemingly a million miles away from everywhere else. The Four Corners is the intersection of 4 states: Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. I have had the good fortune to visit this magical area multiple times already, and I already have plans to explore it further in the months and years to come. I first spent 5 days traveling through northern Arizona on my own with my first serious SLR, the Canon 5D, in 2006. It was there that I felt first swept away by the inspiring beauty of this land, which as cliché as it may sound, is lost in time…I have since been back several times, primarily to New Mexico and Navajo country but also through a large part of Southern Utah and Colorado. The area is beautiful, but also impoverished, and the culture that remains is often eroded by poverty, rampant alcoholism, and disease. So in some ways, I was happy to travel to the land of the proud Navaho, if only to contribute to their economy through my tourism.

Regardless, I wanted to bring you pictures of the region and encourage you to visit this magical place. It is rich in tradition, and brings you a slice of Americana that you’d never find anywhere else. I will bring you pictures that I have taken with my Leicas as well as other cameras, such as the Canon 5D. It really doesn’t matter what camera you bring. The beauty here is so vast, so inescapable, that even a point and shoot can easily be used to make wonderful captures. So without further adieu….. The Four Corners and American Southwest.

Beginning the Journey

There are many places where you can start your journey into this beautiful place, situated upon the Great Colorado Plateau in the heart of America’s Southwest. I have started travels into the region from Albuquerque, NM, Phoenix, AZ, and Salt Lake City, UT on different occasions. There is no immediate access, as whichever port of entry you chose, there will be several hours of travel to get to the heart of this country. For all of this travel, you will be duly rewarded with images that will last a lifetime! So buckle up, and let me take you for a ride.

Utah

Utah is typically known for its numerous national parks, and I have had the good chance to see many of these places. On my travels through the south of Utah, I have been able to see Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands and Arches National Park, and so many sites in between. Here is the heart of the Colorado Uplift Zone, which used to be the bed of giant sea that is slowly being elevated by time and the collision of tectonic plates. Let me break my travels there by site visited, though truth be told, there’s as much to see between the national parks as within them.

Bryce Canyon

All that I can say is that Bryce is epic. It is the one place in the entire region that you must see. Time, wind, and the elements have carves a sea of majestic spires in the hillside of this Southern Utah monument, which I consider to be the most beautiful natural spectacle that I have ever seen. While there, remember to wake up early and watch the sunrise light up the Canyon. All that I can say is: Heaven On Earth.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park is one of the most famous of all of America’s national park, famous for the delicate stone arches for which it takes its name. It was here that Edward Abbey, the famous conservationist, gained an appreciation for the majesty of this land and its delicate balance and preservation. Arches serves as a wonderful introduction to the region, and it is close to the uber-cool city of Moab (land of many mountain bikes) as well as Canyonlands National Park. Here are some images taken from the region:

Canon 5D- Delicate arch, taken with a 400 mm f/5.6 with 1.4x and 2x extenders attached. Seriously this image was taken from ½ mile (over 1 KM) away….

Canon 5D- Double Arch

Canon 5D- Sheets of Walls at Arches NP

Canon 5D- Sunset at Arches and Balancing Rock

Canyon lands National Park

This AMAZING national park is often forgotten as it sits aside its more famous neighbor, Arches National Park. Canyonlands is known for its famous viewpoint at Mesa Arch. At sunrise, this arch glows bright read, casting a daunting spectacle upon the scene beyond. While at Canyonlands, I camped literally at a site on the edge of a Canyon, while eagles nested in a dead tree above me. At night, it is so dark here that you can see the arms of the Milky Way spread above you. If you are into Astrophotography, this may be THE place for ya! To be honest, Canyonlands is probably my favorite of all national parks in the region. It is so vast, so overpowering, that it is hard to escape the beauty of the region here. I just felt like taking deep breaths of clean air, keep my eyes open, and take everything in.

Canon 5D- Canonlands Viewpoint

Canon 5D- Mesa Arch

Canon 5D- Indian Ruins in Canyonlands National Park

Canon 5D- Sunset on The Canyonlands

Dead Horse State Park

This is one of those surprising detours that came upon our exit from Canyonlands National park. This beautiful vista is another ideal place to watch a sunrise. While there, my friend and I ran into this older gentleman shooting a large format Horseman Camera. He said that he came here once a month, just to shoot and remember what a joy it was to be alive. I agree:

On the Road Between National Parks

On the road, you will see many sites that you wish you could stop for. After a while, things seem to blur, but as I was traveling with a friend with equal photographic passion to match mine, We got to stop a lot ; ). Here are just a few images taken along the way:

Layers of Colors

Canon 5D: Gnarled Tree

Canon 5D – Going to Dust

New Mexico & Far Eastern Arizona – A Journey with the Leica M8

New Mexico is a quiet land of sleeping ghosts, a place where you can palpably feel the Wild West. I swear, I could hear Clint Eastwood’s footsteps in the distance, but that’s how New Mexico is…a land of subtle grandeur and timeless aging.

I have been to New Mexico now twice, the last time with the Leica M8, some CV and Leica glass, and a week-end to capture life there. Along the way, we visited many sites, including Sky City (America’s longest continuously-inhabited dwelling) and Canyon De Chelly. For those of you who like shooting ruins, both new and old, New Mexico is the place for you. I am lucky to have close friends in the region, and plan to visit again, to see the many sites that I have missed in times past. Here are a few places that I didn’t miss

Leica M8 and Summilux 35 mm asph- Canyon De Chelly

Leica M8- Ruins of Whitehouse Rock

Leica M8- High above

Leica M8- Canon de Chelly from Above

Leica M8- Friends Resting

Leica M8- Dramatic New Mexico Clouds / Abandoned Settlement

Leica M8: Sky City Ruins

Leica M8 – Dog on “leash”

Leica M8 – Needle of Rock

Arizona:

So Much to see, so much to do in Arizona, but inevitably, when you think Arizona, you think “GRAND CANYON”….the Grand Canyon National Park consists of 2 rims, to the south and to the north, and is a place of the grandest majesty present on this planet. This is the landscape photographer’s dream. I came here and last shot the Grand Canyon when I was first getting interested in photography, so some of the images presented to you are my earliest work in my current push…so excuse the oversaturated colors and hyped up contrast. I have always made a point to shoot and process how I feel as I see these images, and here, in the teeth of the Grand Canyon, I wanted to convey the scope and splendor of the place. The easiest access point to the Grand Canyon is probably via Phoenix, followed by a several hour drive north. It’s a pleasant and beautiful drive, and you can stop by the volcanic fields near Flagstaff, divert to Meteor Crater, and other natural beauties on your way there. Make sure to bring warm cloths and some hand protection, as sunrise and sunset can get quite cold.

Canon 5D- Sunrise in the Grand Canyon, North Rim:

Canon 5D- Horseshoe Bend

Canon 5D- Me at Meteor Crater, in the Heart of Navajo Country

Colorado:

During my time in the Four Corners, my time in Colorado was limited. For me, it was maily a pass through from Southern Utah back to New Mexico on the return arm of our trip. However, Colorado should not be discounted as a stop worthy of time spent. Durango is a charming town, and much of the region is taken up by the San Juan Mountain Range, with its old mining towns and snowcapped peaks.

Canon 5D – Storm clouds Gather In the midst- San Juan Mountains

Hopefully, I haven’t bored you with these images. My photography tends to be centered about the busy streets of our cities and my hometown. However, traveling to the Southwest offers a different photographic experience, and I hope that I have nudged you closer to a trip to this wonderful area. Thanks for taking this trip with me!

I am always traveling. You can view some of my travel sets HERE.

My blog is HERE!

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