Apr 172014
 

Looking Back to the Zeiss ZM 50mm Sonnar Day

By Zaki Jaihutan

Dear Steve and Brandon, thanks for providing the opportunity to share my nostalgic moment with the beautiful Zeiss ZM 50mm sonnar f1.5 or the Sonnar.

Not long ago I traded my Sonnar (together with one other lens) with the legenday leica 50mm summilux ASPH. I’ve been wanting to get my hand on the Lux for quite some time, it has its own strong rendition different to that of the Sonnar (perhaps “slight”, but it’s there).

I am not going to provide you with comparison between the two lenses. Not only that I dislike technical comparison (though I admit this type of comparison has its own use), but I also like to see a lens for what it is, its overall feel, its drawing if you like, how the lens work with my camera and myself. I am not good in giving objective explanation about this and prefer picture to do the talking. My acquisition of the Lux is a pure aesthetic choice (not to mention the opportunity to obtain the Lux at a very acceptable price), and while I am happy with the result I get from the Lux, I cannot say that the Sonnar is inferior to it. I don’t want to sound like I’m defending an ex girlfriend, but the Lux and the Sonnar are simply two different beauties.

When I first venture into the difficult world of rangefinder by purchasing my M9, the Sonnar is my first lens, and it has been my go to lens until I got my 35 lux ASPH about 8 months ago. I choose the Sonnar not just due to price consideration (voigtlander can give you a more acceptable price range with a good quality glass), but from the result of its images, their artistic feel, and….guess what? From the possible problem in using this lens due to its famous “focus-shift” issue. I was a total rookie in the rangefinder world (which I still am, mine you I started using leica M9 for only around two and a half years  ), and I thought, gee, why not challenge myself more? It just sounds cool, using tricky lens to get a certain artistic look.

Believe it or not, I don’t find any focus shift issue. Most pictures I took are spot on where I want them to be. Perhaps its me that is less critical? Maybe the objects I choose do not reveal this issue (smaller object might show this perhaps, e.g. pencil points or something like that?). I remember someone said somewhere in the web that he did not get any focus shift issue, and someone responded that is impossible!!! Well, maybe my lens, or my camera, was already adjusted …or maybe, someone had skillfully painted a different lens and put the mark ZM sonnar to the lens in order to fool me. Maybe, mabe and maybe.

Anyway, looking back at what I can get from the Sonnar, its imperfection which add up to its artistic look, its “drawing” as many people like to call it, I feel a bit nostalgic and would like to share what the Sonnar has done to my worldview. I realize many samples are already there, but I guess additional view to enjoy are always fun. Perhaps this can reignite interest to this classic lens (and an option to consider for those who like to get a good quality 50mm glass with their M, but finds it hard to justify purchasing the uber expensive Lux). All of these were taken with either the M9 or the new M. Most of them can also be seen at my flickr site at HYPERLINK “http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaihutan/” http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaihutan/

See if you can feel its unique soft way of blending the subject into soft focus, and find it adorable. Enjoy.

With kind regards,
Zaki Jaihutan

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Mar 112014
 

Sulawesi, Indonesia with the M9

by Andre

Hi Steve,

It seems almost obligatory to begin with a big thank you for all the work you put into your site and I too would like to this. I am convinced that your site is a source of inspiration to many of us and it sure is for me. In fact, you are to ‘blame’ for me buying a Leica M9 a few years back. A decision I have never regretted. I’m not sure my I’m worth such an expensive camera as I am merely an amateur photographer, but the one thing I am sure of is that I enjoy the hell out of it. I check your site daily –if not multiple times every day- and although we have never met (until today I have never submitted anything to your site), strangely it feels as though I know you well.

My setup is simple: M9 with a 35 cron and 50 cron. High ISO performance of the M9? Lousy. Are there faster lenses out there? For sure. Do I need them? Absolutely not. Would I like them? Nope. Does that mean I don’t suffer from GAS? Eeeh, no.

Anyway, to the stuff that matters: photography.

This is a photo essay of our trip to Sulawesi, one of the larger islands of Indonesia. We cycled around the southern part of the island as well as through a part called Toraja land. A bicycle is a superb way of visiting places. Slow enough to see the sights and smell the smells yet fast enough to cover quite some ground. But then again, I am Dutch so I might be biased towards cycling.

We started of in the capital city Makassar. A bicycle tour through the city led us to the port of Makassar. A lot of transport through the archipelago is done by these wooden ships.

Ships in Makassar - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.0 – 1/250 – ISO 160

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Along the way, we met many shopkeepers, children and what have you not. Many Indonesians love to have their picture taken so for all you portrait lovers out there, it is heaven!

Some examples.

The woman in this photo had a little shop along the side of the road. She was preparing some delicious samosa-like snacks.

Nice to meet you - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.0 – 1/25 – ISO 400

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In Sengkang, inside a coffee place tucked away in what looks like a garage box, this local barista made a very nice cuppa, by default served with condensed milk.

Barista - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.0 – 1/60 – ISO 640

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A guy at the market in Rantepao.

At the market - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.8 – 1/90 – ISO 160

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Our trip continued in Tana Toraja which warrants a little bit more text.

The area of Tana Toraja is like no place on earth. It is secluded from the rest of Sulawesi, tucked away in the mountains of South Sulawesi. The lush green rice paddies cascade down the mountain sides. The Toraja are an ethnic group with a fascinating culture. One of its most prominent rituals center around elaborate burial ceremonies. In the Toraja culture, a person is not ‘dead’ until he is buried. Before the ceremony, a person is simply ‘ill’ and lies in a coffin in the house of the family. The burial ceremony is a massive gathering of family and friends and lasts for three days. Because it is such an expensive event, it happens that people lie balmed in their coffin for several years!

At the funeral ceremony -which lasts for three days!- the guests are welcomed by a number of people wearing the traditional clothing of the Toraja. More often than not by the younger members of the family or by youngster from the neighbourhood

Toraja girl - M9 – 50 summicron – 4.0 – 1/45 – ISO 160

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What this photo tells me that sharpness isn’t all important. The focus on this picture is slightly off yet somehow it doesn’t bother me and to me it even adds to the mood of the picture.

An important part of the ceremony is the giving of gifts. It is carefully noted what a person gives and when at some point a member of that family dies, one is obliged to return the gift. Gifts usually consist of pigs or waterbuffalos. The most coveted are albino buffalo that may cost as much as well over $10.000.

At the ceremony, many pigs and buffalo are slaughtered and prepared for the guests. Here’s one piggy going to meet its maker…

This is the end - M9 – 50 summicron – 1/350 – ISO 160

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Once the ceremony is concluded, the deceased is then buried. Traditionally, this means that his or her body is placed in a grave high up in a cliff so that the belongings could not be robbed.

What you see in this picture is a device in which the deceased is carried to the cliff side. It is also the shape of the architecture of the houses in Torajaland. On the background some graves are visible. The puppets you see are called Tau Tau. They represent the person in the grave.

Tau Tau - M9 – 50 summicron – 2.0 – 1/350 – ISO 160

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Our trip continued to the north of Sulawesi. Before sailing over to the island of Bunaken for some spectacular diving, we visited Tangkoko national park. Beautifull jungle and black beaches, something I had never seen before.

Beach at Tangkoko - M9 – 35 summicron – 2.0 – 1/3000 – ISO 160

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To top off our trip, we did some diving on the island of Bunaken. Ranked as one of the top places in the world but as I haven’t found the possibility to take my M9 under water, I can’t show you any pictures…

On the island we came across this boy. It was still a good two months before Christmas but by the looks of it, he was already in the proper spirit!

 Christmas spirit - M9 – 35 summicron – 1/15 – ISO 160

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So, that was it. The moral of the story? Photography is fun and if you have the chance to visit Sulawesi, it is well worth it!

Thank you Steve for posting this photo essay and thank you readers for reading it. It is bloody difficult to choose some photo’s to accompany this story but hey, that’s part of the task.

If you would like to see some more, visit my flickr account at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wahapx100/

Kind regards,

Andre

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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Mar 032014
 

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Looking into the souls, thinking in (Leica) monochrom

By Marco Wolf – His Website is HERE

My name is Marco Wolff from Hamburg. This is my first article I write about my thoughts as a photographer, my ideas and gear I use.

More than 3 years ago I deeply stepped into digital photography, took online trainings and made a lot of photo sessions. These sessions follow 2 streams, the first is about portraits – going next to people, talking to people and focusing on what they are and what they think. The second stream is about dancing – Flurina (first picture above) was the first dancer I took pictures of and right at this moment I was addicted to the passion of the dancers expressions and their life.

During this time I used several cameras and lenses like olympus, nikon, Leica etc. to find for me the most suitable one. Hopefully, now… I have found it. In this article I like to tell you a little bit about my way I used Leica and my experiences with the Leica monochrom.

2 Years with my Leica M9

I bought my first Leica (M9) in silver in 2011 with 35 mm f/2 and 50 summilux f/1.4. I started to take pictures for a local culture organisation in Lucerne (Switzerland). I was able to take pictures during concerts and also backstage. It was always a dream to me to work like a reporter with artists, being next to them as observer. Amazing moments are always before the gig starts, the members of the band are lazy, funny and relaxed. But then, after they entered the stage – their mind totally changed.The way they look and behave is totally different – you can feel they are passionated to their music. I try to be so close to the band to be able to freeze their expression to the picture.

Picture of the band “When Saints Go Machine” (Leica M9, 50 Summilux)

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This picture was taken during a concert of the danish band “when saints go machine”. It was nearly dark, hard to focus. I just work with available light with no extra flash etc. The M9 with max 800 ISO and summilux 1.4 was the best combination for me.

Developing Pictures

I grew up by the pictures of Anton Corbijn, especially the pictures he made of Depeche Mode. I knew it is hard to copy his contrast and sepia style – especially when adapting them in the digital world. I spent days on producing my own presets in lightroom to go in this direction. Every single picture of the M9 gave me a lot of post work, but the results never really kicked me.

Good friend of mine (Leica M9, 50 Summilux)

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Leica Monochrom

In august 2012 I could join the “St. Moritz workshop” with Steve McCurry, Jock Sturges and Amedeo M. Turello. Leica was the official sponsor during this 2 days workshop. I was able to use a pre-production Monochrom for half an hour with my lens and memory stick. After importing the RAW files in Lightroom I was just sitting in front of the screen astonished by the quality of the pictures that just came out of the camera with no additional post work. – I just could kick my M9 lightroom presets and was able to work with the monochrom files with just some fine post editing.

But as you may know, buying a Leica especially a Monochrom is expensive and it took some time until one camera was available at my personal camera store ;-) I sold the M9 with the summilux, bought the monochrom and a used 50 f/2 summicron. After some weeks working with the monochrom, I didn`t miss any color. No more taking decisions which color style would fit to the pics. I just felt home and free – I was now able to concentrate on the object in front of the lens. It just reduced everything to the minimum – my personally essence of photography.

Now I fully concentrate on having contact to the “model”, the composition of the background, everything just in black and white – an amazing feeling.

The good news about the monochrom are also the higher ISO compared to the M9. I use ISO 6400 as maximum – the results are still amazing.

dancing choreographer in zürich (Leica MM, 50 Summicron)

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In these pictures above I just added some contrast and blacks and have just the style I was always looking for.

It`s always interesting how the MM also interpret the lights. Like at the pictures above. Behind the woman is also a lot of light, but on the file it is almost black. After a photo sessions like with dancing choreographer, it is always a pleasure to me, looking at the screen and being fascinated what potential the camera has – that’s a kind of soul the camera has. It`s not just another gear that makes great pictures with high-resolution, no it`s just sees the light differently

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Printing services

Some words about online printing services. I tried out some of them over the last years, apple printing, whitewall (the official shop) and others. If you like to have the best out of your MM on paper I really can recommend the WhiteWall-Leica printing service. After registering your MM camera you have access to this shop. My recommendation is the “Lambda print” just on paper or paper on aluminium. The black parts of the picture are like painted, the fine details e.g. of the hair are amazing. Looking at the portraits is like looking directly at the face.

Gear I also use:

VSCO (film 1&2), MacBook Pro Retina 15.4”, Sony A7r – yes, I´m also one of them ;-)

Another Portraits all with Leica MM and 50 Summicron:

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Next time I will you tell a little bit more about my dancing photo sessions I took over the last years with different professional dancers from Angela Rabaglio, like this:

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Please give me feedback about my work under [email protected], my official website is http://marco-wolff-photography.com

Feb 032014
 

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A poor man’s road to Leica

By Westerhuis & Westerhuis

As our name ‘Westerhuis&Westerhuis’ already suggests: we are brothers. Willem Hendrik and Arend-Jan. It would be safe to say that we grew up with photography. Our father had a Leicaflex SL with a range of lenses. Back when we were kids, going out with the family meant that we would both get ‘one frame’ to shoot with the camera. That is how we learned to see the world through a frame: looking for the scene we wanted to capture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In May 2005 digital photography found it is way into our family. It was an Olympus E-300, which compared to the Leicaflex, was equipped with highly technical features such as automatic exposure and focus. Suddenly we were able to shoot more than six images a year, and dad did not have to share his Leica anymore. (Something that took a while for us to understand.) The learning curve suddenly became steep!

When we grew older and went to University, the camera spent more time in the closet than in our hands. Occasionally we used it for holidays, fraternity activities etc. Never too serious and certainly without ambitions..

Then something happened we had not foreseen: some friends were getting married and since they were on a low-budget, they asked me (Willem Hendrik) to shoot their wedding. Apparently they had seen me holding a camera the right way up and were somehow assuming I knew where to find the shutter button. I did not dare to bare the burden of a screw-up with only myself to blame, and so I asked my brother to come with me.

The results however surprised a lot of people, not only the bride and groom, but more important: other couples. Several weddings came along; we bought new bodies (Olympus E-600) and lenses (the legendary 50mm f/2 and 25mm f/1.4) and began enjoying photography again. We moved from weddings only to portraits, graduation ceremonies and group shoots. But most importantly it was street photography that got our attention.

We found that street photography was a powerful way of improving our photography skills. When shooting on the streets it rapidly became apparent that a great photo is not about sharpness, subject isolation or ISO performance, but about the narrative. A sharp, clear and in every term a high fidelity portrait of a cat is in the end just a photo of a cat. The technical perfection does not make up for the lack of talent. We found out it is more important to train yourself to ‘see’ notable things happening than to rely on your gear to create something out of nothing. Minor events can be captured and still tell a complete story on their own.

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Story telling in wedding photography

Naturally we began incorporating this storytelling style in all our assignments. This meant a observative way of working without interfering and only with the use of available light. We have shot in very different and difficult environments where we had to adapt to the conditions. The good thing about shooting a wedding is that you need to deliver; you have to know what you are doing to be able to get the best out of a situation

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Being with two photographers

Although we both did some weddings without the other, we stuck together for the most part. Shooting a wedding together has some major advantages: we always use a basic lens set-up such that one knows, based on lens and location, the type of photo the other is taking. Therefor one is able to take the corresponding shot from the opposite direction without being in each other’s frame. Because we both shoot with different prime lenses, a nice reproduction of the day from multiple perspectives can be delivered. Secondly, we are both very technical; if variables get tough, we communicate our strategy in ISO, aperture and exposure, we developed our own sign language for this to be able to come up with similar results.

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Buying a Leica

After launching our own website, the amount of inquiries was vastly increasing. This made us able to invest in our company, and so we decided to go back to our roots. And so two second-hand Leica M9’s were bought, despite our philosophy about gear being second to content (After all we are both engineering students and firmly believe in the ‘garbage in, garbage out’ paradigm. As for the lenses concerned: we bought a Summicron 35 and 50 from their first owner. Both versions IV, which are almost 35 years old. Not only did they feel very familiar, even the smell brought back memories. By using Leica we could also continue our philosophy of carrying the least amount of gear with us. Although the Olympus E-600 was one of the smallest DSLR’s around, we would rather carry M9’s for a day.

Of course we are, as much as any photographer in constant battle with the GAS (gear acquisition syndrome).The M240, 50mm Summilux, and 35mm Nokton are all nymphs singing their songs. For the moment we choose to sit tight with the old Summicrons we have. Our M9’s do not limit creativity in any technical way which is proven by legends from the past, as these lenses were the tools of many great photographers. If we cannot make this work then no mountain of gear can fix that deficit in our talent. At the moment we feel it is more important to master this simple camera than to acquire next gen lenses with their fancy appeals and new possibilities.

So yes, this is where we now stand. Both of us have a single lens setup. Which, as it turns out, is more than adequate for wedding photography. As always: it is not the camera that shoot people, we do.

Willem Hendrik Westerhuis

https://www.facebook.com/WesterhuisWesterhuis

http://www.westerhuisenwesterhuis.nl

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Feb 032014
 

A7R with Canon 17mm TS-E tilt/shift

My/the dream team for architecture:

Sony A7R with Canon 17mm/4 TS-E

By Dierk Topp

First I would like to mention, that I am not a Pro, I take pictures for my own pleasure and sometimes for others.

I bought the Canon 17mm TS-E for use with the ordered Leica M240, but when I got the M240, I sent it back after 2 days. The main reason (besides many others) was, that the focus field in life view was fixed in the center. Using tilt lenses with a focus only in the center of the frame is useless, and for shooting a portrait session, when you want the focus on the eyes is useless with a focus control in the center of the image, and shooting stills from a tripod with a fixed focus field in the center is useless as well.

I ended having no FF body for this lens! So I tried to use the 17mm TS-E with my Leica M9 and the MM and it was no problem. I used the 18mm finder for a rough composition and very often had to do only one or two test shots (no live view!) till I got, what I wanted (you will find two images from the M9 at the bottom).

When then the A7R arrived in October 2013, I discovered a big problem: my Metabones adapter Ver.1 was unusable, it is blocking the edges and the vignetting made it unusable. But I found the info, that the new Metabones Mk. III supports FF and I was very happy, when I got it a few days later and it worked perfect.

Why using a tilt/shift lens?

If you know about tilt/shift lenses, there is not too much to say about shooting this combination.

If not, here is an excellent post on shooting architecture with shift lenses:

Let me quote a few sentences, I hope you don’t mind James?

  • Point your camera up at a tall building. See how the lines of the building converge to the top of the frame? That’s an extreme case of perspective distortion. For a shot like that, sometimes it looks cool. But back up a good bit, zoom out, and try to shoot the entire building. More times than not, you’ll notice the verticals are not perfectly straight. It’s extremely difficult to get it right handholding the camera and trying to guess. That’s because in order to have no perspective distortion, you have to have the capture plane, be it film or digital sensor, parallel and plum with the building.
  • There is a lot of misunderstanding about tilt/shift lenses. Basically, it’s a lens that projects an image circle much larger than the frame it intends to cover. Then, it is allowed to be moved independently of the camera body to anywhere within the projected image circle.

If you are interested in the tilt function of this lens, you find an excellent description here at the site from Keith Cooper:

http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/article_pages/using_tilt.html

Now let the images speak for themselves.

  • images made with f/8 and tripod
  • as the camera is on a tripod, I very often just shoot additional shifted images and have more freedom during PP for stitching
  • very often prefer a different aspect ratio than what I get out of the camera and stitch images by shooting two or three frames with different shifted lens. And very often I shift the lens more than recommended and decide later, if I have to cut the outer (blurred) part of the image. With stitched images there is plenty of resolution for that. But you have to plan that during shooting.
  • if I want to get a wider angle of view and shift up (or down), I use two images with the lens shifted left and right up by 30° or 60°
  • if you have a close foreground and/or have to avoid parallax error with slightly differing images from moving the front lens by the shifting, you can use the special “Canon TSE Tripod Collar” from Hartblei: http://www.hartblei.de/en/canon-tse-collar.htm, this collar is mounted on the front part of the lens and keeps it in exactly the same position, while the rear part of the lens including the camera is being moved for shifting.
  • my post processing: LR 5.3, B&W conversion with Nik Silver Efex PRO2, stitching with PTGui or MS ICE (free for Windows)

The A7R or ILCE-7R with the Cannon 17mm/4 TS-E on Metabones smart adapter III

(I took the pictures with the NEX-6 and Micro Nikkor 85mm/2.8 PC, also a tilt/shift lens, on a Metabone adapter, tilted for more DOF)

the lens on this picture is shifted up for about 9mm, as you can see on the scale on the lens in the middle of it.

The front part of the lens for tilting is not tilted, you can see it on the second picture below.

The Metabones MK III adapter supports the electronic diaphragm and correct EXIF, this lens is manual focus (as all shift lenses) and I could not test the AF support of the adapter.

A7R with Canon 17mm TS-E tilt/shift

A7R with Canon 17mm TS-E tilt/shift

and here are some images made with this fantastic combination:

One shot shift up

A7R with Canon 17mm TS-E tilt/shift

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This one stitched of two shifted images (shift left and right), no HDR, 11.000×5.000 pixel

A7R with Canon 17mm TS-E tilt/shift, stitch of 2 shifted images

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This is a 1:1 crop of this picture

A7R with Canon 17mm TS-E tilt/shift

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Gut Trenthorst

again from two stitched images, but this time the shift was 30° up to the left and right, to get the view upwards

Gut Trenhorst, A7R with Canon 17mm TS-E, stitch of two shifted

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from two shifted images (no HDR, the sensor has no problem with this high contrast!)

Gut Trenhorst, A7R with Canon 17mm TS-E, stitch of two shifted

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Now some pure architecture shots

 This is just a standard shot, lens shifted up

A7R with Canon 17mm TS-E tilt/shift

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HavenCity, Hamburg

Shifted full 12mm up, recommended is 8 to 10mm on the long side, the top of the building is getting blurred!

HafenCity Hamburg

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If the camera is perfectly aligned, buildings tend to look strange, as if the top is getting bigger,

just a bit perspective distortion could look more natural.

HafenCity Hamburg

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Bad Oldeloe, Germany

stitch of two images, shifted down and up

A7R with Canon 17mm TS-E, stitch of shifted images

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Three images, shifted left, center and right

image size 12.000×5.000 pixel

A7R with Canon 17mm TS-E, stitch of shifted images

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… the same, three stitched images

A7R with Canon 17mm TS-E, stitch of shifted images

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and Hamburg, Speicherstadt

Three images shifted, 11.000×5.000 pixel

Speicherstadt Hamburg

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…and two images, shifted up 30° left and right, 9.200×5.000 pixel

Speicherstadt Hamburg

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Last but not least:

You can even use this lens on a range finder. Here are two images made with the Leica M9 with a cheap adapter. I used the 18mm finder on the M9 for rough composition and one or two shots, till I got it right. The M9 has no live view for controlling the image before the shot! And for the electronic aperture you need a trick with an extra Canon body.

 The Marienkirche, Lübeck, Germany

Mail Attachment

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This is a special combination of shifted lens up on the M9 and rotating the camera on the tripod for much more than 120° view. I shot many very much overlapping images to make sure, that it will work for stitching – and I think it worked :-)

Leica M9 with Canon 17mm TS-E tilt/shift

Thanks for your interest and I hope, you find it informative and useful … and sorry for my English :-)

More images are on my flikr:

Canon 17mm TS-E tilt/shift (including A7R) and the Sony A7R images

thanks and kind regards

dierk

Jan 202014
 

Pictures from DPRK (aka North Korea)

By Damian Bettles

Hi Steve,

Really enjoyed reading about all the latest Leica wonders, the images from the Monochrom look incredible, although that is a serious investment in B&W. I imagine that there must be something seriously special about the new Summicron 50 too, to be priced so high.

I have just come back from a visit around the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. It’s always seemed so shrouded in mystery, that I’ve always wanted to visit and was lucky enough to get a visa for the week of the 100th year anniversary of the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung. During the same week, there was the failed rocket launch and the first public speech of the new leader Kim Jong Un.

Anyway, I thought your readers might enjoy seeing some pictures of this mysterious country. I travelled with a an M9 and M7 with 50 Summilux, 28 Summarit and Voigtlander 15. My journey began in Beijing where I took the overnight train to Dandong as I was making an overland crossing into North Korea (not an option for you Americans unfortunately). The sleeper carriages were 3 bunks high, 6 bunks per cabin, and I was sharing mine with a group of ladies that decided to start cooking in the train at 5 am. Needless to say it was a welcome arrival at the immense platform when I arrived in the morning.

messagepart

Dandong is the hub of the majority of trade with North Korea which is separated by the Yalu River. A popular pastime for local tourists was to take a boat trip that cruised along close to the North Korean side under the watchful eye of the soldiers on the bank. There are two bridges, one functional, that cross the river: The Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge and the Broken Bridge that was destroyed by the US during the Korean War. In the distance you can see the now defunct fairground of Sinuiju.

The Broken Bridge and Friendship Bridge

Below is the view of Dandong from the steps of the Museum to Commemorate the War to Resist the American Aggression and Aid Korea. The name really flows off the tongue.

View over Dandong

We were taken to the border by coach where we met our guides who would be with us for the rest of the journey. At the border they confiscated our telephones and computers and sealed them in bags, to be retrieved at the airport on the way out 5 days later. I have to say that it is a fairly unnerving experience to be completely separated from the rest of the world, even if only for a short period. I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to live there. We took the train from the border to Pyongyang, arriving late in the evening. Taking pictures from the train was not allowed, so here is one I snapped arriving at the station:

 

Arriving at Pyongyang Station

For the rest of the trip we generally were not allowed out of sight of our guides. We travelled around by bus, crossing town between permitted tourist sites and photo opportunities. I managed to snap a few off from the window of the bus and occasional walking between buildings.

The Bus Stop

Boy on Bicycle

Downtown

Pyongyang Skyline

Tougher Skyline

Party Statue

Red flag support

These were all taken in downtown Pyongyang, once you left the city, the view was very different. I took the below picture at the Children’s Palace at the opening of one of the performances.

The Childrens Palace

I’d like to say that I had a better understanding of what life in North Korea was like after the trip, but I don’t think I do. The interaction was so orchestrated, so controlled that I think we left with as many questions as when we arrived. Still, this last shot I took in the demilitarised zone on the border with the South, once described by Bill Clinton as “the scariest place on Earth”. It was nice to see that nature didn’t think so.

 Butterfly at the Border

I disagree with Mr Clinton; the border was nowhere near as scary as the flight out on the Tupolev 134 still going from the 70s. I also found a new benefit of film over digital too, they were checking the digital images on the way out and deleting ones they didn’t like.

Hope you enjoy them and you can see the rest on my Flickr pages here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/damian_b/sets/72157629582410846/

Damian.

Jan 032014
 
Puerto Rico, India, Family… 2013 & the Leica M240
By Bob Boyd

Hey Steve,

2013 was a very busy year for me. Lots of work. Lots of travel. We took a family trip to beautiful Puerto Rico in July (our first ever outside the states as a family) and then I had the opportunity to return to India this past fall to document some mission work in the field. I’ve shot both an M and an SLR for the last 5 years but for personal work, it’s almost always the M. I made the decision to jump to the M240 early – mainly because of the ISO limitations of the M9 – and was fortunate enough to get an early copy last spring through my longtime Leica dealer, Ken Hansen.

I thought I would share some of my favorite images from this past year with a brief description.

Here’s to a great 2014 for you and your site!

All the best,

Bob Boyd

www.bobboyd.net

A bay near El Morro, Puerto Rico. (Zeiss 21mm f/2.8)

Bay near El Morro, Puerto Rico

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Paths… (Left) a path of doorways at Fort El Morro and (right) Two brothers walk along the beach at sunset in, Puerto Rico. (50mm Lux ASPH)

Paths...

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Coast Guard boat at sunrise near the ferry for Culebra, Puerto Rico. (35mm Lux ASPH)

Coast Guard at sunrise

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Ocean play at sunset… Isle of Culebra, Puerto Rico (50mm Lux ASPH)

Ocean play at sunset...

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Graffitied Tank… The kids inspect an old rusted out tank on the beach in Culebra, Puerto Rico. (35mm Lux ASPH)

Graffitied tank

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Room with a View… Windows of a watchtower open to a beautiful scenic view in the Puerto Rican rainforest of El Yunque.  (Zeiss 21mm f/2.8)

7 2013-07-11 L1002032

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Fire in the sky… A firey sunset illuminates the post-rain mist on the mountainsides in Puerto Rico. (50mm Lux ASPH)

8 2013-07-13 L1002738

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Amritsar, India… A Sikh woman bows in the middle of tourists at the entrance of Harmandir Sahib – the “Golden Temple”. (50mm Lux ASPH)

9 2013-09-22 L1004024

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A Sikh man and his bike outside Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar. (50mm Lux ASPH)

A Sikh man and his bike outside Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar.

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A Sikh man in Amritsar, India (right) and a Christian woman in Punjab, India (left). (50mm Lux ASPH (l), 90mm Summarit/ISO6400 (r)

Common Differences...

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Indian Corridors… (Left) Golden sunset light pours into a market area in Amritsar, India. (Right) A mother walks her children to the village school bus stop.

(50mm Lux ASPH (l), 90mm Summarit (r))

Indian Corridors...

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A remote village area. Punjab, India (35mm Lux ASPH)

A remote village area. Punjab, India

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Two young boys playing in a village in Punjab, India.
(50mm Lux ASPH)

 14 2013-09-23 L1004304

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An elderly man in a remote village in Pujab, India. (50mm Lux ASPH)

An elderly man in a remote village in Pujab, India.
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Brick Factory A worker hauls new bricks at a brick factory in Punjab, India. (21mm Lux ASPH)

A worker hauls new bricks at a brick factory in Punjab, India.

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Children playing with tire inner tubes along a dirt street in Punjab, India. (35mm Lux ASPH)

Children playing with tire inner tubes along a dirt street in Punjab, India.

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A Mother’s love and pride on display as she holds her child. Punjab, India (21mm Lux ASPH)

Mother and child. Punjab, India

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Two women rest on cots at a home in Punjab, India. (21mm Lux ASPH)

Two women rest on cots at a home in Punjab, India.

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Village street scene. Punjab, India (35mm Lux ASPH)

Village street scene. Punjab, India

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A woman prepares an evening meal in a small hut. Punjab, India (21mm Lux ASPH)

A woman prepares an evening meal in a small hut. Punjab, India

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Market traffic… Punjab, India (21mm Lux ASPH)

Market traffic.  Punjab, India

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I’ll end on one last personal image… My wife visiting her 88 year old grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s. (50mm Lux ASPH)

25 20131208 - L1005530

Aug 262013
 

Going on World Tour with Leica, Voigtlander  & Nikon

By Mike Villa

Earlier this year, my typically spastic lifestyle was settling into quite a nice groove. I was putting in huge amounts of time and energy at Motor Trend, working as a video producer for their YouTube channel, while taking on weddings on the weekends, and saving for a motorcycle. And then, one fine March afternoon, the good people from Life Without Limbs called.

For those who haven’t heard of it, Life Without Limbs is a non-profit organization founded by Nick Vujicic, an incredibly joyful individual who was born without arms or legs. Nick seeks to inspire others, help those in need, and spread the hope and joy that he’s found to those who need it most.

Life Without Limbs asked me to join Nick and a 4-man video team from Sypher Films on his 2013 World Outreach Tour and provide photo and written documentation of his journey – essentially acting as their own in-house photojournalist. Less than a month later I was on a plane to Hungary for a “test run” to see how well I meshed with the rest of the team. Shortly after, I left the (rather spectacular) Motor Trend parking lot for the last time, and the motorcycle fund went to the good fellows at Leica and Voigtlander.

There aren’t very many practical reasons to pick up a Leica these days. My D800 offers far better files, and (in my opinion) my little Fuji X-E1 isn’t too far off in image quality, while being even more compact and discreet. Nearly everything on the market provides a more “efficient” way of taking a picture. But if I based all of my life decisions on practicality, I likely wouldn’t be a photographer – there are certainly more efficient ways of making a living. I picked up a Leica for the same reasons I picked up a camera in the first place – I simply enjoy it.

The first leg of our journey took us through eight countries in Southeast Asia and made for an excellent torture test of the M9. I used the Leica with either a Voigtlander 21mm 1.8 or Voigtlander 35mm 1.2 for about 80% of my shooting. Without an M-mount telephoto handy, my D800 and Sigma 85mm 1.4 made up most of the rest of my shots, although I had the rest of my Nikon kit on standby. Needless to say, it rarely left the hotel rooms.

Documenting everything means I touched on just about every genre of photography. Many days were based around speaking events – everything from a class of 30 to a stadium of 30,000. The video team and I played tourist quite often as well, as capturing and understanding the local culture of each country was important. We trekked through slums and palaces, showing our equipment no mercy when it came to dirt, rain, or rough roads. The conditions were rough on the cameras, and often rougher on our hearts. Every epic panorama was balanced with an intimate hug backstage in the green room. Every portrait of a president or prime minister was followed by journalistic shots of sick orphans dying in their cribs.

After 27 days of non-stop clicking of the shutter and furious typing of team journals and blogs, I touched back down on American soil with cards, hard drives, and heart full of incredible experiences.

 

1. Mount Fuji, Japan  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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2. Okinawa, Japan  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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3. Okinawa, Japan  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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4. Manila, Philippines  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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5. Manila, Philippines  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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6. Manila, Philippines  | Nikon D800 + Sigma 85mm 1.4

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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7. Manila, Philippines  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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8. Manila, Philippines  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2 + Nikon SB900

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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9. Manila, Philippines  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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10. Manila, Philippines  |  Nikon D800 + Sigma 85mm 1.4

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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11. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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12. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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13. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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14. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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15. Hanoi, Vietnam  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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16. Hanoi, Vietnam  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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17. Hanoi, Vietnam  |  Nikon D800 + Sigma 85mm 1.4

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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18. Hanoi, Vietnam  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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19. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam  |  Nikon D800 + Sigma 85mm 1.4

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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20. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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21. Phnom Penh, Cambodia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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22. Phnom Penh, Cambodia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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23. Phnom Penh, Cambodia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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24. Phnom Penh, Cambodia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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25. Phnom Penh, Cambodia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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26. Phnom Penh, Cambodia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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27. Phnom Penh, Cambodia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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28. Venetian Resort, Macau  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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29. Hong Kong  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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30. Hong Kong  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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31. Hong Kong  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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32. Hong Kong  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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33. Seoul, South Korea  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

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34. Seoul, South Korea  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

So what will I do differently for the next sections of Nick’s World Outreach tour? Not much, although I’ve since added a Voigtlander 75 1.8 in hopes of using my Nikon kit even less. Last time around, I did feel limited having 85mm as my longest focal length for the bigger events, so I’ll swap that out for my 70-200. For a more complete look at my load out, you can peek inside my two camera bags here  and here.

If you’ve already checked out the Life Without Limbs World Outreach blog  and still can’t get haven’t gotten your travel photography fix, you’re in luck: I’m typing this while en route to join the rest of the team in Indonesia for part two of the tour. I’ll be continuing to blog on the Life Without Limbs site, and possibly a bit on my own site as well (as time permits).

Questions? Thoughts? I can’t promise a timely response, but if you comment here on Steve’s site, I’ll do my best to get around to responding.

Thanks for reading folks, and a huge thank you to Steve for letting me share my experiences with his readers.

 

Life Without Limbs 

Mike Villa Visuals 

Images processed with VSCO Film 04 

Sypher Films 

 

Jul 022013
 

Quick Compare: Leica M9 & 50 Sonnar vs Leica M7 and 50 Lux by John Tuckey

Hi Steve, given the recent interest in the Sonnar after your new review, I thought folks might be interested in a comparison I have from a recent shoot.

The shoot was simply to get some nice vintage styled images with a bit of 50′s glamour to use in my portfolio on 500px (where I still have illusions about selling enough downloads to buy a nocti, hey we can all dream!) and in a book I’m putting together. As usual I used the M9 as my main camera, but as we had some time I decided to rattle off a few with my M7 as well. So here you get an interesting comparison between the M9 + Sonnar 50, and the M7 + Lux 50. Lens vs Lens, and Film vs Digital. Not a scientific comparison obviously, but an interesting one being as its rare to get the same subject with both cameras at the ready.

The vast majority of the time I shoot an M9 – It used to be practically welded to the Lux 50 ASPH, but find myself using the Sonnar more and more. Yes, the focus shift can be an issue if you’re not chimping, but its a lens to love for its imperfections I think. These first two images are the M9, Sonnar at 1.5. The focus shift got me a little, but the end result was still compelling.

JRT-huff-M9-1 JRT-huff-M9-2

Now here’s two with the M7 and the Lux 50, I was using Ilford Delta 100, and scanned the negs in on a friends Epson Perfection 750.
JRT-huff-M7-7028 JRT-huff-M7-7029
Which do you prefer? I have to admit I much prefer the M7 shots. I can see me pushing a few more rolls through it on my next shoots :)
All the best

http://www.facebook.com/jrtvintage

Jun 132013
 

Japanese Summilux 2

USER REPORT: The Japanese Summilux – Canon 50/1.4 LTM

By Jason Howe

Hi Steve, hope your well and enjoying the combination of MM and M240, I was pleased to see you got the latter back and I look forward to you slowly convincing me that I need one………..anyway I’ve been taking a look at a lens I’ve had for sometime and I’ve recently seen cropping up a little bit more than usual, the Canon 50/1.4. I’ve done a full write up on the Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM which can be found HERE but I thought I’d give a small taster of the images in this post as I really feel the lens is, well pretty awesome!!

Note: Processing in LR4 and Silver Efex Pro 2

An Introduction

The Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM first caught my attention quite by accident, whilst researching my purchase of the Leica 50mm Summilux f/1.4 Asph FLE I stumbled upon references to a lens some referred to as the Japanese Summilux. Intrigued by this reference and fueled by my natural curiosity I took the plunge and picked up a perfect copy of the Type II version along with original Sl39.3C UV filter and Hood.

I’m fortunate to have some pretty amazing glass and I always seem to have a perpetual que of lenses waiting to get quality camera time. Because of this and despite me being happy with my initial testing of the lens the Canon 50/1.4 never really spent a prolonged period on any of my cameras.

Surprisingly there is not a huge amount of information around about this lens, certainly less than I anticipated. Therefore, having received several email requests for my opinion about it I decided that it fit’s the profile of my User Reports, by that I mean it’s not really mainstream or fashionable……..it is however very capable on the Leica M9, M Monochrom and film M’s and offers the user another cheap fast 50mm option.

If you’ve read my User Reports on the 50mm Jupiter 3 or Voigtlander 15mm Super Wide Heliar you will already know that I don’t go for overly technical write ups. I prefer, if I can to let the lens do the talking.

 

On the M Monochrom

Off the Rails – Leica M Monochrom – ISO 160 1/500 Sec

Off the Rails

Rebel – Leica M Monochrom – ISO 320 1/500 Sec 4x ND Filter

Rebel

Sound of Silence – Leica M Monochrom – ISO 160 1/2000 Sec

The Sound of Silence

The Urban Jungle – Leica M Monochrom – ISO 320 1/180 Sec 4x ND Filter

The Urban Jungle

 

On the M9

Alicia Sim 1 – Leica M9 – ISO 500 1/1500 Sec

Alicia Sim 1

Trapped – Leica M9 – ISO 400 1/750 Sec

Trapped

Yours Truly – Leica m9 – ISO 160 1/3000 Sec

Yours Truly

Alicia Sim 2 – Leica M9 – ISO 640 1/125 Sec

Alicia Sim 2

 

On Film M’s

A Long Day – Leica M3 – Fuji Provia 50

A Long Day

Golden Moment – Leica M3 – Fuji ASTIA 100F

Golden Moment

The Navigator – Leica M6 – Fuji ASTIA 100F

The Navigator

First Light – Leica M3 – Fuji Provia 50

First Light

 

If you’ve got the Leica M Monochrom and your taking an interest in vintage glass, the Canon 50/1.4 is certainly a great place to start and you won’t find better bang for your buck at around US$400.00. On the M9 and Film M’s its still a very worthwhile proposition if you want to get your hands on a good, sharp fast 50 for relatively little. I’ve gone in to much more detail on my User Report but hopefully this will have piqued your interest in this awesome lens.

Cheers, Jason.

May 302013
 

M6 vs M9 VSCO

Leica M6 vs. M9 VSCO film emulation comparison

by Ben Miller

(from Steve: I did my own M6 vs M9 comparison a long while back and you can see my results HERE. Thanks to Ben we have another fun comparison to look at. At the end of the day we can always see a difference between film and digital)

Steve,

Like many who frequent your site, I have Leica lust. I started out shooting a 110 camera as a kid and progressed to 35mm point and shoots, pocket digital cameras, and my iPhone. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered real photography for the first time. After exhausting research I ended up purchasing a Panasonic GF1 and have not looked back since. I was intrigued by Leica but had never seen one. That is until I attended your street photography workshop in Chicago. Leicas were everywhere and all I could think was “I Leica”. Months later I sold the DSLR and purchased an M6 with a 50mm Summicron. I kept the GF1 though as I felt a special connection with that camera. (I couldn’t sell it….. I gave it to my brother and now he is addicted.)

With the release of the new M type 240 I’ve been watching the used prices of M9. The time was right. I pulled the trigger….. I promised my love that I would sell the M6 to help fund the purchase of the M9. I put it off. She has asked me several times since. I ended up putting it on the “Bay”. Two days before the auction closed I realized that I had a roll left in the body. Twenty frames were left of a roll of Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 400. I loved this film. The price is right and I can buy it in four packs locally.

I mainly process photos in black and white. I always had trouble being happy with the color I could produce post-processing in Light Room until I found VSCO film emulation software.

I was visiting my folks when I decided to do a “Crazy Comparison”. I wonder where I got that idea. (Thank you Steve!)

I’m sending you some photos for comparison. The film was developed and scanned at a local pharmacy. (Yeah…. It’s one of the big ones with commercials.) I did not try to emulate the look from the scans exactly. You can see that there are some color differences between the M9 files and the M6 scans. I’m hoping that you will share them with your readers to see if they can tell the difference. I have struggled with the film vs. digital moral dilemma for some time.

Cheers,

Ben

So which is the M9 and which is the M6 Scan?

Set #1

51450005

M9 VSCO-5

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Set #2

51450006

M9 VSCO-4

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Set #3

51450008

M9 VSCO-3

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Set #4

M9 VSCO-2

51450013

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Set #5

51450018

M9 VSCO-1

 

May 232013
 

The M9 and amazing customer service from Leica at the Solms factory.

Hello Steve,

First let me thank you for all the work you do. Your site is very informative and helpful.

My saga with the M9 began 2 months ago. I was preparing for a documentary shoot in North Thailand for a project on the elephants of Thailand, and as I was assembling my gear, I thought it would be a good idea to get my sensors cleaned as I was experiencing dust that was resistant to the squeeze blower I have here at my home in central Thailand. I use a very good and reputable store in Bangkok for my camera needs and dropped 2 Nikons and my Leica M9 for sensor cleaning. I specifically asked if they were able to clean the Leica sensor, and they said yes, as they do carry Leica and although they are not a full line Leica dealer, they are authorized to carry Leica products, including optical products.

Four hours later I picked up my cameras and headed for the airport. During the first 3 days of the shoot I shot all three cameras. The two Nikons were clean as a whistle, but the M9 showed substantial dust spots, in fact so bad that I retired the M9 for the remainder of the shoot. I contacted the camera store and they apologized, there was a mix up in communication. Their repairman did not touch the Leica, and asked if I would return it for inspection upon my return to Bangkok. I did, and the report I received was scary.

Their repair center closely looked at the M9 sensor under magnification, and said the “dust particles” had melted into the sensor. I never found out if this was the case or if the “dust” was just stuck firmly to the sensor, no matter, as things turned out. I left the Camera store and headed to the official Leica Boutique @ Silom center. They told me they did not do repairs and took down my name and e-mail. I received an e-mail from Leica Thailand a few days later. The Thai gentleman was very nice. At their request I went to the Leica website where I had registered the M9 and fond I had 3 days of warranty left on the camera. Over the next few days, there was much discussion with Leica Thailand on what I would need to pay to have my camera serviced. I corresponded with the gentleman at Leica Thailand for a couple of weeks, which was drawn out because of their need to e-mail Singapore to give me a response to my questions. I really did not feel comfortable with the situation in Thailand, so I sent an e-mail to customer service at Leica in Solms Germany.

Their response was prompt and comforting. I knew from the first e-mail that Solms would do everything they could to help me. After several e-mails and sending sample photos to Solms, I received this response. “I checked it out with the technician. You will receive a new sensor from us free of charge as gesture of good will.” I sent my M9 to Solms and they … “replace sensor, adjust sensor, replace printed circuit, adjust range finder, clean range finder, adjustment of all parts, cleaning and end control” … In essence my camera was completely refurbished, all at no charge. I was astounded and grateful. Lets face it; dust on a sensor is generally a user issue. It happens in all cameras that do not have a fixed lens and some that do. Somehow holding that camera now is more meaningful than before. It sounds silly, but the incredible customer service of Leica has made me value the camera more and respect it more. The day I got the M9 back I made this photo, and once again looking at the screen was so happy to see the fantastic IQ, of a Leica M9.

Lee Craker

Website: http://www.leecraker.com
Facebook: http://tiny.cc/ge6f0
Blog: http://www.leecraker.com/wp/

 Nakhon Nayok, Thailand

Mar 102013
 

DXO Tests the M9/ME sensor with worst Full Frame results ever

leica-m9

So it seems some in the Leica world are a little upset that DXO has published their first tests ever on the Leica M9/ME/M9P sensor and they reported that the sensor in these cameras produced the worst results of any full frame sensor they have ever tested. Here is exactly what they said:

“The 24x36mm full frame CCD sensor utilized in the Leica M Series rangefinder cameras produce significantly poorer raw image quality, compared to results from DSLRs featuring a CMOS alternative.

In fact, with a DxOMark Overall Score of 68, or 69 for the Leica M9, M9-P and ME Type 220, these cameras offer the worst image quality DxOMark have tested on a full frame sensor, with the exception of the 10-year-old Canon EOS 1Ds.

No doubt Leica enthusiasts will assert we’re comparing apples and pears, and the advantages the Leica M System offers in terms of simple control, portability and discretion, as well as first class engineering, are more important.

It’s fair to say too these results purely examine the data from the sensor, excluding the impact top quality Leica M Mount glass will have on the real world results. At base ISO sensitivities Dynamic Range and Color Depth scores aren’t quite as far away from competition, like the Canon EOS 1Dx and 5D MKIII, as the DxOMark Overall Scores might suggest.”

Because of this report I have had maybe 30 e-mails from concerned M9/ME owners asking me if they should sell their came because of these results. The answer to that is a big fat NO unless you want to move on for some reason.

SEE THE FULL DXO REPORT HERE

It is obvious, and I have stated this years ago, that DXO does not test these cameras by taking images. Not one Leica lens was mounted to their ME/M9 for this test and by taking date from just the sensor they miss out on what the M9 was designed to do. DXO can not measure the REAL IQ nor can they measure things like usability, simplicity, and the experience of shooting with an M camera.

Many of us have seen INCREDIBLE results from the M9/ME and in fact, I prefer the output of the M9 to most DSLR’s, even those made today (Nikon D800 may be the exception but it’s too damn big for my tastes and for an everyday camera) and the numbers that DXO show can not and do not in any way tell us what the real output of the M9 is with quality glass.

With my M9 over the years I have shot pro work, family, and every day images and I have rarely been disappointed with what has come out of the camera. I know many others who have shot high-end fashion for magazines with their M9 and others who have made tens of thousands of dollars with their work from the M9.

With that said, DXO tests can give you an idea of what to expect from a sensor and yes, the M9/ME has an AGING sensor that is lacking in a few areas but do not take those numbers and somehow feel that your camera is all of a sudden not able to take great photos. The M9 had the ability to take jaw dropping quality shots since 09/09/09 and it still does today. It may not and does not have the CMOS low light quality nor does it have the best Dynamic Range today but the sensor is still highly capable.

As for the M9/ME/M9P vs the new M, well, the CMOS in the new M easily beats the M9/ME sensor in high ISO, dynamic range, color and overall richness of file. My M 240 review will have MUCH more and even an M9/M comparison with an RX1 and Fuji X100s shot thrown in for the high ISO tests. This will be up by Tuesday March 12th. 

Feb 252013
 

From DSLR to Leica by James Maier

Hi Steve,

I’ve been shooting mainly DSLR for the last few years but, finally, I was compelled to check out the Leica digital rangefinder cameras because of the great time I’d been having (and the excellent photos I’ve been taking) with their little X2 point-and-shoot. (Thanks for the introduction to the X2 BTW!)

The rangefinder paradigm is admittedly not for everybody but I first fell in love with photography by shooting 35mm film in my father’s Contax IIIa when I was a teenager so, in some ways, the M9 was kind of like “coming home” again – only with the convenience of digital files and processing that I’ve grown accustomed to!

I shot Canon gear for years and finally, after some considerable time hands-on with the Leica M9, I’ve completely liquidated my 5DmkII and collection of “L” lenses. The M9, a spare battery and a couple of lenses all fit in a *tiny* Domke F-5XA bag, the whole kit weighing just a few pounds. Compared to the bag I used to lug my DSLR and lenses around in, this is practically effortless, plus it’s much more discrete to carry as well as shoot! The compactness of the M9 is wonderful not only for portability but I find people just don’t *react* in the same way to the M9 as they did to my huge DLSR – they’re more relaxed and comfortable. The have often mistaken it for a vintage film camera. This thing just doesn’t look that imposing. ;)

The Leica M lenses are simply phenomenal – extremely sharp, even in the extreme corners (where my Canon L glass didn’t always fare so well). The lenses are sharp and contrasty even when shot at wide open apertures…and that even applies to the wide-angle lenses! The 50mm Summicron and 35mm Summilux have been excellent partners for this camera, though my favorite is the 21mm ultra-wide Elmarit as it’s helped me to capture stunning landscapes and seascapes in contrast and clarity I could only dream of before.

The CCD sensor in the M9 certainly bucks the CMOS trend of most modern digital cameras but affords the Leica a unique image signature that is absolutely lovely and very film-like to my eyes. From my own experience, I’ve noticed that the M9′s files require much less post-processing than any of my other cameras.

Thanks to you and a few others, I finally found my way to a camera that is a perfect fit that will be a great companion for years to come.

I’ve attached a handful of my M9 shots.

Very Best Regards, James Maier

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