Jul 212014
 

My few days with the very fun Leica C Camera

By Steve Huff

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A couple of months back I had the opportunity to try out the Leica C for a few days. Usually, I am not a BIG fan of small P&S cameras as they always lack something in regards to image quality. For me, I would normally rather take out a camera that is slightly larger as there are many that will give me much better performance, then again, sometimes we want to go SMALL, and the Leica C is a very attractive came that also happens to perform very well for a small and tiny P&S. It even has an integrated EVF (though not to the level of the Sony RX100 III, which my review IS coming soon).

The Leica C is basically a Panasonic LF1 with a new facelift and design on the outer shell. The Leica has some snazzy accessories available for it as well where the Panasonic is sort of “plain jane” when it comes to appearances. If you want to stick out in a crowd and say “look at my beautiful camera” the Leica would be the one to get over the Panasonic, which to my eye is sort of plain and dull looking. We all know that the looks of a camera do not make the images, YOU DO and the cameras guts, or internals, is what pumps out the files for you. IN that regard, the two cameras are the same. Period.

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The LF1 comes in at $319. A very good price for this camera as I found it to be quick, stealthy, quiet and with very nice image quality for a small sensor P&S camera/

The Leica C comes in at $699, NEARLY $400 MORE. So what do you get for that $400? For starters you get Adobe Lightroom software, a better warranty and the Leica design. For some, this is worth it as many “want” a Leica. While not a “real” Leica, it does have the red dot which tells everyone else who has no clue about the details, that yes, this is a Leica.

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The good thing is that it does look like a Leica camera, and if that inspires you to get out and shoot more, then yes, it could be worth it. Just remember though that the Panasonic is $380 less, and is in reality, the same camera besides for the outer design.

With that out-of-the-way, this is not going to be a “review” but my thoughts on the camera after a few days of real world use while on vacation a while back.

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The Leica C is beautiful to look at and hold. It is small but felt nice in my hand. I found it to be quick, snappy, and with a nice menu layout. The EVF was a but on the almost too small side but would do in a pinch. For 90% of shots I used the LCD. The LCD does not swivel, so that was one thing I missed but for a small P&S, this was a little firecracker and while not up to the level of the $798 Sony RX100 III, it had its moments.

I enjoyed shooting this camera in high contrast B&W, which is where it did really well for OOC images. I also found the OOC JPEGS to be crisp with great color. Probably my 2nd fave P&S camera ever, next to the new Sony RX100 III which is the smarter buy at about $100 more, but then again, the Sony doesn’t have the red dot!

Below are a few images I snapped with the Leica C. I had fun with it, and for me that is key. If I can have fun with a camera instead of having frustration, then it goes on my list of “must think about” cameras. The Leica C is not a low light type of camera but it is an every day, take everywhere camera.

You can buy it from Ken Hansen, PopFlash, The Pro Shop, B&H Photo or Amazon! It also comes in a cool dark black or a nice white. There are also deals to be had and you should not have to pay retail on this guy. For example, Amazon has them for $590 right now, using Prime. 

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Jul 142014
 

My favorite cameras for usability, ability and versatility mid 2014

By Steve Huff

Wow. It is already mid 2014. Half of this year has whizzed by faster than ever and as always we have a ton of cameras that we can choose from when it comes to photography. If we want something small that packs a punch, we have that. If we want something for low light, we have that as well. If we want something that is a joy to shoot, hold and use, well, we also have that. Do we have it all in one single camera yet? Well, not really.

There are always new camera seeing released though maybe not as many as the years past. DSLR production, as in new models, has seemed to slow down some from the constant barrage of new models that we used to see. Well, at least it seems like it. Even mirrorless offerings seem to be lasting a little longer between releases these days, and this is GOOD as we are at the point now where almost any camera will give us better results than most of us even need.

So far in 2014 we have had some cool releases and there are still fantastic cameras that were released in the past that are still perfectly usable. The question you need to ask yourself when deciding on a new camera is “What will I be shooting with it”, also “Do I value usability more than overall versatility”? “Will I be shooting mostly low light or in good light”? “Does it need to fit in my pocket”?

Once you decide what it is you want to use the camera for, be it portraits, your kids, vacations, or just an everyday shooter then you need to decide if you want simplicity in a fixed lens model or something that will allow you to choose and change lenses. The choice is yours as there is something out there to fit your needs, and I am going to talk about the cameras I like as of July 2014 with the reasons WHY I really like, if not love them.

My fave cameras made for Versatility

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Micro 4/3, Olympus E-M and E-P series

My favorite camera for ALL OUT versatility as of today is still the Olympus E-M1 or even E-P5. These cameras are beautifully made with a solid feel and gorgeous looks (in the case of the E-P5). They have some of the best lenses made for any system next to Leica from fisheye to telephoto and everything in between including some super fast primes like the Nocticron f/1.2 that is one of the best lenses I have ever used. With Micro 4/3 you have speed, you have the lenses, you have the build, you have the amazing 5-AXIS Image Stabilization and you have a smaller size. The lenses are so good, and not so astronomically priced. The color reproduction is beautiful and the B&W is not too shabby either. A camera like the E-M1 has it all and the only real weakness of this camera is that the sensor is smaller than full frame and smaller than APS-C. For this reason you lose out on some shallow depth of field and the images will be a bit more noisy at high ISO than full frame cameras.

Even so, if you shoot mostly in good light and want one hell of a system with unlimited lens choice and an all around great experience with pro image quality results, the E-M1 is still a gorgeous camera. The E-M10 and E-M5 are as well. I reviewed them all and you can read my reviews of these models HERE, HERE and HERE. Yes, you can indeed get DSLR quality and beyond with these models.

You can buy the E-M1 at Amazon or B&H Photo.

Three from Micro 4/3 – Super versatile cameras that do it all. 

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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My fave camera for Point & Shoot, Vacation and SMALL SIZE!

Sony takes it here for me with the new advanced pocket rocket, the RX100 III. 

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The new Sony RX100 III is a hell of a camera in almost every way. It is small, made very well, has a pop up EVF, tilt LCD and stellar IQ for a small pocket camera. It’s a handsome camera as well and gives us an f/1.8 to f/2.8 lens from 24-70 (ff equiv). What is not to like? The color is great. the files are nice and I have seen some do amazing work with the RX100 version 1 and now Version III improves on that model in every way. This is, hands down, the best pocket camera I have ever seen or used, ever. Video is good as well. It does it all but will not give you the all out versatility or IQ of something like a Micro 4/3 or full frame model. For what it is though, it is the perfect camera for every day shooting, vacation, kids, family, events, etc. Whoever buys an RX100 III will not be disappointed. It is the real deal. I have been able to use one for a but thanks to B&H Photo but have not had serious time yet with it. Will be doing that this week. You can buy the RX100 III at B&H Photo or Amazon.

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My Fave camera for Usability

Without Question, the Leica M reigns supreme here

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The Leica M, any of them from film to the M 240 or Monochrom take this one for me in a huge way. These cameras are ones that you cherish and create an emotional bond with. For those who think that is nonsense, then you have never had that bond with a camera, and yes, it is real. The Leica M is a masterpiece of design, build, and usability. All manual focus using a rangefinder it is a very precision tool that actually can teach you a think or two about photography, framing and exposure. It is a tool one can use for a lifetime if you choose a film model, as they last forever. While the price is off-putting to many, think about it in a new way. This is a camera that will give you the most enjoyment from any camera ever..well, it has for me and not everyone is the same. From the moment you take it from its box all of your regrets of the money spent fade away.

The Leica M6, M7, MP, M8, M9, M240 and Mono will give you that Leica experience that no other camera will give you. As for IQ, others can meet or exceed the Leica in that area but nothing can beat it for usability or for creating that emotional connection. You can buy a Leica from many places these days but my faves have always been Ken Hansen, PopFlash.com, The Pro Shop and Leica Store Miami. These guys will treat you right.

Three from the Leica M 240

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My favorite camera for general every day and low light use

The Sony A7s wins this one easily. 

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You guys know how much I adore the Sony A7s and while it is not the most versatile (only due to lack of native lenses when compared to others such as Micro 4/3) camera it is indeed quite powerful. There is no low light situation that this camera can not tackle, period. When used with the 50 0.95 Mitakon I can see in the dark and when used with the native Sony lenses such as the 35 2.8 or 55 1.8 the camera will even AF in the dark. Amazing. The A7 also has better color performance than the A7 and A7r , better AWB, faster AF and better M mount lens compatibility. You can read my review here to see what it is all about but I now have one of these bad boys with a few lenses and love it to pieces. As I said in the review, the A7s is probably puns for pound, dollar for dollar my favorite camera that I have ever reviewed.

Low light shooters, this is a must try or own. The camera also is excellent in daytime shots and video. If more native lenses were around it would be unbeatable for me as of July 2014.

You can buy the A7s at Amazon or B&H Photo.

Three from the A7s, 1st one using the Voigtlander 35 1.2 wide open and a 100% OOC JPEG. 2nd one is from the Mitakon 50 0.95 and third and fourth is from the Zeiss 50 Sonnar 1.5. 

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Runner Ups

The Fuji X-T1 and Leica T are also very cool and very capable cameras. The Leica is different than other cameras in its interface and joy of use. It is a Leica and gives you the Leica style of IQ and pride of ownership. The Fuji is still a lightweight in the build but for Fuji fans, this is the best of the lot when it comes to Fuji interchangeable lens bodies.

Of course these are not the only cameras I like, but they are my faves as of July 2014. The Sony, the Leica, the Olympus..all superb in so many ways and unlikely  to leave anyone disappointed as long as you use them with good glass. The key is to get out and use them (for me it has been tough since it has been 110-112 every day and me and extreme oven like heat do not jive well for more than 5-10 minutes) and have fun using what you do own. The key is you more than anything, not the gear..though I admit..it is very fun to test and try new cameras!

Jul 132014
 

The best for me: Leica Monochrom!

by Francois Roosens

I think it’s the moment to send you some pictures from my Leica MM (Monochrom). Leica came into my life about 2 years ago, I sold my D4, D800e and all reflex kit to buy it.

The Leica MM is for me the best camera I have bought. I now own the MM(The best), M240,  A7r,  A7s (fabulous), and also the Lumix GM1 (it’s a perfect micro camera). I like your job.. Thanks for everything.

I am sending you some picture of « GILLES » from Belgium, it was in March for the « Carnaval » It was an important feast in my country. Early in the morning Gilles come pick  up other gilles and drink and eat at each house. in front of every house, they dance around… and lunch some oranges to give at children or at people for have a lucky year. I hope you like this.  The Leica 24 Summilux and 50 Noctilux 0.95 was used for that and I was up at 4AM.

Thank you!

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Jul 082014
 

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Taming the Nokton 50 1.1

By Manikarnika Kanjilal

My name is Manikarnika Kanjilal. I am a doctoral student and I devote my almost my entire (lately dwindling) free time in pursuit of photography. I was always interested in photography but started being seriously into it for the last couple of years – after I found a Digilux 2 on ebay. It was Steve and Thorsten Overgaard’s reviews that made me acquire the camera and thus start exploring my photographic vision. This post is however not meant to wax poetic about that cult camera but on another “controversial” lens about which the photographic community seems to be divided.

Last summer I acquired a second-hand Nokton 50 1.1 in a moment of insanity and went on to use it in a one-lens-one camera challenge to myself. What was even more insane was that I did this while covering a four-day music festival in my city.

Edmonton Folk Music Festival is quite the religious experience for a huge number of music lovers in this town. People queue up at the gates for a chance to place their tarp as close to the main stage since 3 am or some ghastly time like that. The main stage is at the bottom of a hill and people sit on the hill as a natural amphitheater. For four days tarps and their placements become an extension of the private space and ego for many of the audience members. For someone like me that attends the festival alone and spends most of it standing or walking or crouching to not get in the way of other photographers, tarp politics is fascinating. There are six side stages that hold simultaneous workshops during the day and the main stage performance starts at around 7 in the evening when audience from all these side stages come back to their tarps and settle down for the evening like homing pigeons.

My motivation for choosing a Leica film body and the Nokton f1.1 came from the fact that carrying a backpack full of stuff up and down a hill very soon starts to feel like I am carrying a backpack full of sins from all my past lives. In short, I wanted to travel light and be able to capture decent photos on stage after dark. I did carry my Digilux 2 as a backup but I liked the images from the film set-up way more. It was at times disconcerting because I had no immediate feedback like that in digital. I was being extremely cautious with achieving focus as well as not shooting too much and wasting film. It was quite the lesson in constrained optimization. I had a couple of rolls of Portra 400 in my pocket along with a 4-stop ND filter for when the sun was too strong. This was pretty much it. I ended up using a total of 4 rolls of Portra over four days. I shot everything either wide open or at f1.4. A huge advantage of working with such a constrained/minimalist set up is that this year I had a lot of time to enjoy the music instead of being glued to the camera viewfinder. Often I pre-focused and waited for the musicians to hit the spot instead of trying to track them in their movement. The other advantage of shooting a film rangefinder is that the photographer doesn’t hide behind the camera. With a little practice one shoots with both eyes open and it does wonders when actually connecting with the subject – be it musicians on stage or people on the street.

I ended my nokton-festival challenge with the portrait of a very young music-lover and her mom holding the Forever Folkfest candles in the dark. Nokton 50/1.1 is a beast that needs to be tamed. Using it on a film rangefinder feels almost like writing with a brush pen blindfolded and the challenge could be a source of constant excitement for any photographer.

Cheers!

Manikarnika

Website: http://kanjilalmanikarnika.com/

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chhayanat/

Havana d'Primera

Avett Brothers

Portrait by the candlelight

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John Butler Trio

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Forever, Folkfest

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Delhi to Dublin

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Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires

Dave Alvin and the Guilty Ones with Vioux Farka Toure and Amos Garrett

Jun 252014
 

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An Evolution Through Passion

By Marlon Co

Thank you so much! Your site and its contributors are truly an inspiration to me. I check the site everyday and the combination of technical information and passionate art-makers make this site a place where anyone can feel welcome, which is why I write to you today. I am a young 25 (soon to be 26) year old based out of Westchester, New York. I am a graphic designer by trade and a photographer by passion.

My interest in photography began in my freshman year in high school. I remember my girlfriend at the time asking me what I wanted for Christmas and I said without hesitation: a digital camera. What I had pictured in my mind was a DSLR, but I knew that was a lofty request. Instead I received a Sony point-and-shoot that was interesting but didn’t provide me the control I was seeking. Plus it was almost unusable given the fact that it devoured AA-batteries, burning through a pair after about 20 shots or so…insane. Nonetheless this was still a blessing to me as it prompted me to do some more research into the tools I needed to achieve what I wanted to in photography. In a sense it gave me passion and G.A.S. This is of course a good thing at the beginning of one’s photographic life. Experimentation with techniques and equipment is paramount to finding out what works for you. But as we all know, once you figure out what does work, G.A.S. does not easily go away. You still have the urge to try more stuff, especially given the current leaps technology is making.

Fast forward to my senior year of high school; I dropped photography for a while in those in between years, but still did research online. I explored different styles of photography to see what I was attracted to and more importantly what I enjoyed—initially this was street like many others before me. While this stimulated my interests, I still did not have a camera to work with. Naïve as I was, I had not considered film at all; a much cheaper alternative to buying digital for high school student at the time. Desiring to get what I wanted, I set out looking for work. After a year of working at a chocolate shop after school I had saved enough to purchase a Canon Digital Rebel XT. It was with this camera that I first began exploring the world and light.

Follow Your Own Direction, Leica M9, 50mm

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I practiced throughout my college career and while my shots were OK in my eyes, they never reached the level I wanted to accomplish. I blame a lot of that on the fact that I was just blindly shooting things, not shooting RAW, and not knowing enough about the photographic workflow; especially in processing. I was still snap-shooting but not CRAFTING shots with purpose, care, and intent. Slightly discouraged by my perceived lack of skill, photography took the back seat while I played with graphic design in college.

It was four years later in my last year in college that I had the opportunity to rediscover my love of photography. I have the darkroom to thank for that. Most importantly I am thankful for my professor who taught the only two classes in photography at my university; the only classes I ever took. It was in his first class that I went back to the roots of photography and learned the beauty of film and the darkroom, shooting with the standard AE-1. In the second class we developed our styles and each decided on a series to individually produce for a final show at the end of the semester. These classes truly shaped and solidified my passion.

It’s been four years since I graduated…I pursued graphic design as my career path but photography remained (and so did G.A.S). Since then, I’ve been continuously shooting with a variety of cameras. I eventually landed on an M9-P last year when I found out I loved the small size and awesome little lenses of rangefinders after shooting a Zorki-4 (now broken) and an R-D1s. My next investment will be the M (or next incarnation), but that’s down the line…

Follow Your Own Direction, Leica M9, 50mm

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This time last year, at the close of a long-term design project, I decided to give-in to my passion and I started looking for work in photography with the simple desire to learn more and to grow. I never got any “real” jobs, but I still kept shooting. My subject matter and style was as eccentric as I was. A few months later, I was hired by a friend from high school and got to shoot my first paid gig as a photographer; a wedding of all things! While this was not my first time shooting at a wedding—I had previously snapped at two weddings for fun— this was the first time it meant anything because now it wasn’t just for me, it was for someone else; I had to produce. The couple trusted in my ability and style. At the end of the day I think I did a pretty good job for my first time. The bride mentioned that she cried while looking at the shots I had taken, rest assured they were tears of joy, so I think the newly weds enjoyed them as well!

Woodland Dance, Leica M9, 50mm
They were a truly fun couple to photograph.

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Laughing During the Ceremony, Leica M9, Voigtlander 75mm

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That event further changed me. It proved to me that someone out there thinks I am good at this and instilled in me a confidence that I could pursue photography. However, as we all know working in art is extremely difficult and is easier said than done. The term “starving artist” doesn’t exist merely by random chance, it describes the struggle that we as artists have to go through to be “successful.” Most times, especially in our formative years, that means doing a lot of work for essentially no pay–but if we really cared about cash, we would’ve done something else right?

Around the same time, another friend offered me the chance of a lifetime. He is a comedian who wanted to travel the United States to do shows and pursue his own art. Fortunately for me, he wanted someone to document the adventure. Being a photographer, he thought I would be a natural fit to film the entire journey. So on October 8th, 2013 we set out in a 31ft RV and traveled the United States. We left from New York and moved down the East coast to Miami, zig-zagging through the Southern states until we reached the Pacific, then headed up the West coast to Vancouver, B.C. Eventually we made our way back through the middle states until we arrived home in New York. Frequent stops allowed us the time to really see the land and meet its people.

Raheem the Jewler, Leica M9, Canon 50mm 1.2 LTM
He tried to sell me various lenses after seeing my M9 while I was walking around a flea market in Florida. While he did not have any M lenses, he had a kind heart and was eager to have his picture taken, something I find quite rare in people.

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Abby and Nick, Leica M9, Voigtlander 35mm 1.4

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Fast forward to now, nine months later—yes, you read that correctly—I emerge from that experience tired, but ultimately more whole. Leaving your comfort zone so entirely and spending that much time away from all that you love reveals a lot about person. It provides you with a whole new perspective and I wouldn’t have given up this experience for anything. Photography is about perspective after all; it is a point of view on the world.

Now what’s the point of all this? Especially that title at the top that has, so far, had nothing to do with anything other than being a mini biography of my photographic life? Well I’m about to get to that. The common thread that is meandering through these various phases of my young life is this: passion. Not once in all those years did I ever lose interest completely. While there were times of self-doubt, as there always will be, my passion for this craft kept me wanting to learn and now it inspires me to produce.

Last year, I foolishly thought that the only thing I needed to become a fully realized photographer was a job in photography. I felt that if I worked in any field that involved photography I would be recognized as more “professional.” In a sense I was looking for validation from those already in the field that I was good enough. At times I still feel this way, but I now realize that it really doesn’t matter as long as you produce and do what you love. Who cares what other people think? If you like your work, you like your work, and that’s what matters. As long as you produce (practice) you’re succeeding as an artist; and hopefully simultaneously promoting your own happiness.

The trip around the US provided me with the realization that my dreams are as real as I make them. If I want to be a photojournalist (arguably my favorite type of photography, and one of the hardest fields to get into), I simply have to create my own stories. Just because I haven’t gotten a job as a photojournalist doesn’t mean I’m not one. I am as much a photojournalist as I make myself to be and now that I am home I have taken a retrospective look at my work to find common themes and stories in my photography. In parallel to this I am also diving into the stories I want to start to work on. In a nutshell, I just want to DO. I want to stop waiting around, talking, and thinking; I want to produce and do so with purpose.

Exhale, Canon Digital Rebel XT, 50mm 1.4
Probably one of the first chances at photojournalism. My brother called me at 3AM telling me I needed to pick him up on I-287 in Westchester. He narrowly avoided the car wreck on the right coming home from work, but got a flat from the debris. This police office walks slowly back towards the scene, his breath visible in the February night.

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So this is my philosophy now: to just produce, produce, PRODUCE! To chase the stories, images, and ideas that interest me with abandon, but without losing clarity and focus. If the art gets noticed, it gets noticed, but that’s not the important part. It’s giving yourself to your passions fully. If you’re not producing, you’re not practicing, and if you’re not practicing, then you’re not evolving/growing. Simple as that.

While this is all just the rambling thoughts of a 25-year-old who has tried to pursue a path less traveled; I think the lesson applies to everyone who may have doubts about their own passions. At times I felt defeated, but that defeat came from within. Similarly, success also comes from within, so if you love what you do: DO IT! At all costs, through all challenges and doubt. Indulge in your passion and you will get better, you will evolve, you will grow, and you will become more yourself. No person or job title can take that personal success from you, much less define it; you have to define yourself on your terms.

Now that you’ve gotten to know me and my (possibly) not so eccentric ideas, I’d like to show how I’ve started to put these ideas into practice, in pictures now! Don’t worry not so much reading left!

The first set is an incomplete series that I “discovered” while looking at old photos and have decided to expand upon into the future. My brother and I have always traveled around NY when it experiences harsh weather conditions. For the New York Tri-State area, this typically means hurricanes and big snow storms. Protected by my brother’s jeep, he calls it the Mongoose, and believe me this thing growls, we carefully navigate our hometown and occasionally venture into NYC to witness the power of nature. I always have a camera during these bonding moments between us, and often find a moment of calm in these storms.

Golf Course, Hurricane Irene 2011, Nikon D90, Voigtlander 40mm
A golf course near my old home in Larchmont, NY transformed by Irene into a lake.

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Random Snowstorm, Canon 50mm 1.4
I left the shelter of my friends home to find these tracks in the empty street and untouched snow.

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Along the Edge, Hurricane Sandy, Leica M9, Canon 50mm 1.2
Literally just an hour before Sandy made landfall, my brother and I were driving around Mamaroneck, NY to find these people taking a walk, despite the rising water and inpending storm. The hulls of the boats are usually not visible from this angle and the next day four of these trees were gone.

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Going Home, winter storm Nemo, Leica M9, 35mm 1.4
During a late night drive in this storm, my brother was wiping off the accumulating frost on his windshield wipers when this brave soul was slowly biking home in the snow.

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This next series is what I’ve titled “Colorful Patchwork” and it represents my experience of the vast North American landscape as I traveled on the RV road trip. These photos came out of my internal need to produce a photographic project while on the road trip. I never expected it to turn out this way, as I mainly shoot with some human element present, but the images are simply half-memories of what I thought was beautiful at that moment as the world passed by the RV window or when I stood still long enough to really see. For this series, I put a general constraint on the composition of the photos and what I noticed is that, while somewhat repetitive, the set as a whole is stronger because of those guidelines. Another important lesson I learned: create with intent and purpose, focus.

Chesapeak Bay Bridge, Canon 5D MKII, 75mm
A really amazing bridge, but somewhat discomforting when in the fog and you can’t see the end 23 miles later.

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South Beach, Miami, Leica M9, 50mm

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Atlanta, Leica M9, 50mm

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Waking-up to the Pacific, Leica M9, 50mm
After 3.5 months of driving and reaching California at night, waking up to this sight in Malibu nearly brought tears to the eyes.

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So you start producing, great, but what happens now? Well, you keep going thats for sure, but you also put yourself out there if that’s part of your goals. So here at the beginning of my newest adventure (the first time I’ve ever submitted to a major blog such as this one), I am beginning a process of bringing my work to a larger audience to see what happens. I’m jumping in head first and running with it.

You’ve seen quite a random selection of what I do as a photographer, like I said my style and subject matter is eclectic. You’ve also gotten a glimpse of how I evolved with my photography. That whole process is now propelling me into the future of my work with a new motivation and even stronger passion.

So here I am. My name is Marlon and I love photography. The world—this life—is beautiful if you choose to see it that way. I hope my photos remind people of that.

If you liked my work feel free to check out my links below. If you didn’t like it at all, well you’re entitled to that, no hard feelings! I have plenty of years ahead to get better and maybe change your mind!

www.co-graphic.com

www.facebook.com/mc0photography

A few more shots:

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May 242014
 

New Leica Silver Monochrom, 28 Summilux SE and 90 Macro set!

Most of you gave probably seen all of this already but Leica introduced a couple of new items this past week, which some of you may be happy about and some of you may not as they all cost a pretty penny. First up is my fave, the silver chrome Monochrom camera. Up until now the Monochrom was only offered in a matte black finish, which I feel is beautiful. When Leica released the special Ralph Gibson edition of the Monochrom I was in awe of the beauty of the camera in chrome as it closely resembled an MP ousted of an M. I secretly wished that Leica would release the standard Monochrom in silver chrome and they just did. Coming it at the same $7995 as the standard, the chrome should start shipping anytime now. I may even have one to check out and if so I will do a new video on the Monochrom and my thoughts on the camera today. Sure it is damn expensive for a B&W camera but Leica has been VERY successful with this model and one thing rings true..all who own this camera adore it and say it is their favorite camera ever. I have many friends who own it and will never get rid of it. I know of a couple who have bought TWO so in case one dies of gets damaged or lost they have another. Crazy huh? There is something to be said for an all B&W camera that is optimized for B&W. Especially when it is in the form of a Leica rangefinder.

There has been rumors and evidence of a new version of the Monochrom coming for Photokina, the M type 230. Could this be a new Monochrom in an M 240 body? Possibly. Also, the M Monochrom silver chrome edition below is said to be a limited run. 

leicamonosilver

You can pre-order the silver chrome MM at B&H Photo HERE. Ken Hansen also is taking pre-orders as is PopFlash and The Pro Shop

Leica also announced a new 90macro adapter that is best used with the 90mm f/4 lens they sell. Gone will be the old Macro kit and in its place the new macro adapter. Will start to ship in June.  This will allow macro photography with the M, which is pretty damn cool considering this was never really possible (in any easy way). 

macroand90

Finally, Leica introduced an all new limited edition kit, metal suitcase and all! A combo of the new M-A film camera (which is basically based off of the MP), a special edition Monochrom and the new 28 f/1.4 Summilux, ALL MADE FROM STAINLESS STEEL. Yes, a 28 summilux! The new lens is not released on its own yet but it will be within a few months (My prediction)  - For now, the only way to get it is in this limited edition kit, of which only 101 have been made. This will set you back around $30,000 USA. INSANE! Stainless steel must be pricey these days :)

lux28

leica

Starting Price: € 22.000 (or $30,000 US)

This year, Leica Camera AG is celebrating 100 years of Leica photography. On the occasion of this special anniversary, a uniquely special highlight will be presented in the course of the official opening celebration for the new Leica headquarters in the Leitz Park complex in WETZLAR on MAY 23, 2014: the Leica M Edition 100. The first set will be auctioned at the WESTLICHT SPECIAL AUCTION “100 YEARS OF LEICA” on May 23rd in Wetzlar.

As the first Leica special edition of its kind, the Leica M Edition 100 brings together a purely mechanical rangefinder camera for film photography – the LEICA M-A – with a digital Leica M (LEICA M MONOCHROM) in one set. The combination of these two cameras is unique. Its symbolic character as an homage to the beginnings of Leica 35 mm photography and, in particular, to black-and-white photography makes the centennial edition truly special. This applies, above all, to its high-quality construction and finish: for the first time ever, both Leica cameras and the lenses in this set are made from solid stainless steel.

Both cameras stand as symbols for the origins of Leica photography and the present day. The Leica M-A, with technical specifications based on the currently available Leica MP film camera, is a direct descendent of the Ur-Leica. Alternatively, the second camera, a Leica M Monochrom, is the contemporary variation of the theme composed a century ago by Oskar Barnack.

The set also includes THREE SUMMILUX-M LENSES with focal lengths of 28, 35 and 50 mm. Renowned for their combination of extremely compact size, speed and exceptional imaging quality, they ideally reflect the characteristic performance criteria with which Leica lenses contributed to the establishment of the brand as a legend.

The M centennial set will be supplied in a black anodized aluminium case constructed by Rimowa especially for Leica. Inside, the case is subdivided into compartments precisely tailored to the individual components of the set and lined with real leather in black.
The set also includes Kodak TRI-X 400 black-and-white film for use with the Leica M-A.

SPECIAL ENGRAVING on the top plate of the body commemorates the centennial, as do the unique serial numbers that end with the four digits of the years between 1914 and 2014.

The Leica M Edition 100 is strictly LIMITED TO 101 SETS for the entire global market. The cameras and lenses will be available exclusively as sets from Leica Stores and Boutiques from June 2014; none of the items contained in the sets will be available as separate items (For example, there will never be a stainless steel 28 Lux made available for sale separately, but there will be a black 28 Lux sold separately – I imagine the same will go for the M-A as I bet they will release it to replace the MP in black or chrome eventually) 

 

May 072014
 

The Sony A7r & 55 1.8 along with the M9 & Noctiluxf1

By Julien Ducenne

Hi Steve and Brandon,

My Name is Julien Ducenne, I am a filmmaker living in London and working on images for about 12 years now.

Since long time my dream was to have a Leica M and couple years ago I bought the M9 with a CV 35f1.2, I was amazed by the quality of both and quickly bought a Noctilux f1 to continue my personal learning and exploration on images. I really love shallow depth of field, and the bokeh was great…
Until the day when the Sony A7r was available, I bought it with the FE55mm 1.8 and with a bokeh result really close to the Noctilux ( at equal aperture), I had more details and Sharpness on my pictures. I did not regret the Noctilux at all and I will continue to Buy M mount lenses but I will use both…

…At the end gear is only gear and the result only matter…

Have a great day.

Julien Ducenne

My Flicker : http://www.flickr.com/photos/ducenne/

A7r_55mm_02

not alone

escape

M9_50f1_01

M9_35CV12_01

May 052014
 

3 days of paris!

By Rikard Landberg

Hi Steve!

I would like to share some photos from my trip to Paris with you and your readers. I used a Leica M4-P with a Zeiss Biogon 35/2.8 loaded with Tmax 400. It´s a great combo!

My ”style” of photography is black and white photos with a lot of negative space. The negative thing about negative space is that i often don’t get close enough. The challenge on this trip was to get closer but still work with negative space. Did i succeed?

Paris_looking outTOYP

Paris_smöga (2)TOYP

Paris_bänkparTOYP

Paris_fotografTOYP

Paris_jackaTOYP

Paris_parTOYP

Paris_pornmanTOYP

Paris_fredTOYP

Paris_cafe (2)TOYP

Paris_spegelTOYP

Website: www.rikardlandberg.se
Flickr: www.flickr.com/landberg

Thank you!
Rikard Landberg, Sweden.

Apr 302014
 

Big and small: in the field with a D800/55mm Otus and an A7r/35mm Summilux

Andrew Paquette

www.paqart.com

My background is as a visual artist, not a photographer. I started out as an editorial artist in New York, then became a comic book artist, a 3D artist in the video game industry, a special effects artist in the feature film business, and then an art director in video games. Throughout my career I have made extensive use of cameras, but only in a utilitarian way. For an illustration I did for Travel & Leisure, I took reference photos with a Polaroid. For an issue of the comic Nightbreed, I used my Nikon 2020 to shoot some friends in my loft, again as reference. For the movie Spider-Man, I used photos taken by one of my colleagues to build part of the 3d New York City set. For my paintings, though I preferred to paint subjects “live”, I sometimes took photos with my D70 for reference. On one painting in particular I had the nagging feeling that if only I’d had a better camera I could have skipped painting it. It turned into a fairly popular poster, but even today I think that a photo of the same scene would have done just as well or even better. Now that I have that better camera, I am fairly sure that is true.

I have read in many places that it doesn’t matter what kind of camera you have if you have a good eye for a picture. I would say that if you don’t have a decent eye for what makes a good picture, it won’t matter as much what kind of equipment you use, but it will still make a difference. If you do have some experience making pictures, the equipment can make a huge difference.

At the moment, my two favorite camera/lens combinations are almost exact opposites. One is huge, the other is tiny. On the big end of the spectrum, I love my D800 when paired with the Zeiss 55mm Otus lens. On the small side of things, I am equally pleased with my Leica 35mm Summilux ASPH when mounted on an A7r. The difference between how these two kits handle cannot be understated. The D800 + Otus is so ponderously heavy that I literally injured my hand using it (and even had to go to the doctor as a result). The A7r + Summilux is so tiny that I can carry it in a hip pouch and forget it is there. At face value, one might think that the small setup is the way to go but I have found the images I get out of the D800 + Otus so compelling that I take it out for a walk just as often as I go out with the A7r. I have not put the Otus on the A7r as others have done because for me, the purpose of the A7r is to have something lightweight and discreet. If I’m going to use the Otus, it won’t be discreet no matter what it’s mounted on, so I may as well have the higher frame rate offered by the D800.

When I bought the A7r, I was planning on switching to an all Sony/Leica system so that I could travel more easily with my photography gear. At first, I thought that was how it would work out, but then the Otus was released and I got curious about it. The next thing I knew, I had the Otus and found that it was capable of a wonderful medium format look. The A7r/Summilux would have been a perfect combination to shoot the subject I painted that was mentioned earlier, but the D800 + Otus would have been better for another painting I made shortly thereafter. Despite the extra weight, I found that I wanted to keep the D800 (and all my Zeiss lenses) and the A7r. Now, I use the A7r whenever I travel by plane, have to stay in a hotel, or if my arm is not feeling up to walking around with the Otus. Otherwise, I almost always use the Otus. For special occasions, other lenses will get a ride on the D800, but these days I almost always use the Otus.

I should also give a plug for Zacuto viewfinders here. After using the Sony’s vastly superior electronic viewfinder on the A7r, I was too spoiled to be satisfied with the optical viewfinder or live view on the D800. I use the Zacuto Z-finder pro 3x on both cameras now, and hardly ever misfocus as a result. As an added bonus, my exposure is much improved thanks to the Zacuto’s ability to isolate the LCD from exterior light. For the D800, I leave the mounting plate attached to the camera body, then snap on the viewfinder when I need it. For the A7r, I do not attach the mounting plate, but wear the Zacuto on a lanyard around my neck instead, then hold it up to the live view panel when needed.

With all that preamble out-of-the-way, here are some photos. Most were taken in Amsterdam, but several were taken on a recent trip to Geneva with the A7r. See the captions for more detailed information.

-

1 The A7r+35mm Leica Summilux ASPH

Carnival ride, Amsterdam. There was a carnival in Dam square a couple weeks ago when I shot this image. The ride was moving so fast that I was amazed I could get any shots at all with the manual focus Summilux, but got several regardless. The real problem was that the seats on this ride spun from the arm they were attached to, meaning that I only occasionally had riders facing the camera.

A7r-01

Breakdancing at Museumplein, Amsterdam. There is a troupe of breakdancers that I have now photographed three times at Museumplein. The first time I shot them on an overcast day with a Zeiss 15mm Distagon, then with a 55mm Zeiss Otus, and here with the 35mm Summilux. Like the carnival ride, I was worried about shooting fast action because of the A7r’s comparatively slow shots per second, but it worked out fine. I didn’t get as many shots as the D800 would have provided, but it was enough to get the exact shots I wanted.

A7r-02

Indian magic trick at Leidseplein, Amsterdam. Although I avoid doing so with my other lenses, I love shooting backlit subjects with the A7r/Summilux combo. It isn’t that I never get decent shots of this type with other lenses, but this combination yields terrific contrast in these situations.

A7r-03

Horse-drawn coach, Amsterdam  I’ve tried several times to get a decent shot of this horse, and finally got it with the A7r. One thing I love about the 35mm Summilux is its ability to provide context to a subject, as in this case by showing the environment around the horse.

A7r-04

Particle beam casing and magnets, CERN, Geneva. My friend, Dr. Richard Breedon, has been associated with one of the experiments at CERN for as long as I’ve known him. Recently he offered me an opportunity to come to Geneva and take some photos. I think he gave me something like two days’ notice, but I’d wanted to do it for quite a while, so I got the plane tickets right away and flew down. Taking pictures at CERN was made difficult by the poor lighting and the bizarre colors almost all the machinery was painted.

A7r-05

Scientist calibrating panel at CERN, Geneva. This was one of a small number of shots I took at CERN that has a human subject in the frame to give a sense of the scale of the beam magnets. This scientist is standing at the base of one of these things, which are about 30 meters in diameter. Like most of the shots taken in this area, I converted it to black and white to get rid of all the brilliant green, red, and yellow painted objects.

A7r-06

Skier at Chamonix. Richard and I drove down to Chamonix the day after photographing CERN, to have a look at the slopes near Mont Blanc. This shot was taken in an ice cave at the top of a perilous cable car ride. From here, it was all downhill. Most of the shots I took in Chamonix were taken with ISO 50, f 16, and 1/4000 shutter speed. This was one of maybe three shots that had more normal settings. I would post some of the others because I like them, but anyone who has ever been to this location will have very similar shots because there are only a few places to take pictures from unless you want to risk life and limb.

A7r-07

Geneva auto show, Geneva. This shot looks pretty bright, but it was an indoor space lit with artificial lights, so it wasn’t that bright. This is where having a 1.4 aperture option comes in extremely handy. At ISO 400 I was able to shoot this at 1/400th of a second. One thing I should mention here is that I avoid shooting the A7r at less than 1/200th of a second to avoid shutter vibration, even if it means a higher ISO than I would normally use. In the 1/60-1/125 range, shutter vibration is noticeable, so I just don’t use those settings at all.

A7r-08

Swan on Lake Geneva. I took about 20 shots of these swans, all in attempt to get one shot of water dripping off their beaks. After thinking I’d missed the shot every time, I found that the first shot got exactly what I wanted.

A7r-09

Pedestrian, Geneva. This was taken after sunset. Streetlights were just coming on and it was starting to get difficult to see. Despite the lack of light, the Summilux delivered a very nice tonal range.

A7r-10

Missing the pocket, Amsterdam. When I spotted this couple walking down the street, I had to get a shot of them. I turned around and snapped about five or six shots before they disappeared into a crowd. I particularly like shooting with the Summilux slightly after sundown because of the rich blue violet shades that permeate images made at that time of night. The same evening I took some other nice shots of boats and lights reflected in the canals. Absolutely gorgeous light.

A7r-11

Roman Road golf course, Wales. I took this on the last day of a conference I attended in Wales. Until that morning, the region had been buried in deep fog that made it almost impossible to shot anything. I was grateful when the sky opened up a little to allow this image to be taken.

A7r-12

2 The D800+55mm Zeiss Otus

Parked cars, Bergen op Zoom. In the Netherlands, it is very common to see trees trimmed like the ones in this image. Coming from the U.S., I think this looks a bit strange, but interesting. In this shot, I like how the shallow depth of field blends all the twigs together in the background, creating a kind of smoky bramble above the cars.

D800-01

Looking and not looking, Amsterdam. To get this shot, I parked myself in front of the violet lamp-post, focused on it, then waited for people to walk by. When I got home, I was fascinated by how sharp the lamp post is. I’m still not used to this quality the Otus has. The Summilux has terrific color and contrast, but the neutral color and outstanding sharpness of the Otus are mesmerizing to look at.

D800-02

Artist, Spui, Amsterdam. This shot looks about as cold as Siberia, but it wasn’t very cold at all, nor has it been all winter. We didn’t even have snow this year. Normally I don’t like to take pictures of paintings unless they are mine, but in this case I liked the large amount of white space interrupted by these couple of spots of intense color.

D800-03

Couple, Museumplein, Amsterdam. This shot, like many other shots taken with the Otus, looks like medium format photography to me. It also reminds me of the colors one finds in color photography from the 1950’s. The people in the Netherlands tend to be tall, and I like how this man looks like a giant in a tiny seat as he eyeballs my camera.

D800-04

Girl with braid, Amsterdam. The primary reason I shot this is because of the colors in this little girl’s clothing. While I think of the Summilux as being particularly good at dealing with blues and yellows, the Otus seems to like pinks and greens more. This may just be my imagination, but it has led me to shooting specific colors with this lens because I think they look better with it.

D800-05

Hands with tiny camera, Amsterdam. Unlike the monster I shot this with, the camera in these hands is barely visible. I had wanted to get a picture of this man because of the complex pattern on his jacket, but he ducked into an alcove, took a picture of a building across the street, then went back the way he’d come. I took this in anticipation of him coming out of the alcove in a moment, but he didn’t do it.

D800-06

Green and red, Haagse Beemden, Netherlands. I may be the only person in the world that likes this photograph of practically nothing, but I really do like it because of the colors. It is just a garbage can and a big red cylindrical building on the edge of a manmade lake, but I like the combination of red and green.

D800-07

Organ, Amsterdam. I have taken a lot of photos of cathedrals, but not as many of the organs, which are usually so high above the ground that it isn’t worth the trouble to shoot them with less than a 100mm lens. This one was lower than most and had great color.

D800-08

Breakdancer, Amsterdam. A problem had with the Zacuto is that the D800 live view screen will go black after the shutter is pressed until the image is finished saving. This meant that as I tried to follow the breakdancers with the camera, I could only frame the first shot by eye, and then the rest (if shot in continuous mode) I had to guess. For this reason, I have decided to use the Zacuto for initial focus when shooting action, but will remove it after it is focused so that I can track the action. For this type of shot, I thought the A7r was easier to use because I didn’t have to deal with the Zacuto getting in the way of the EVF.

D800-09

Skater, Amsterdam. To me, this skater looks almost like a superhero in this shot. I have at least a hundred shots of skaters in this park, but this is easily the most elegant of the group.

D800-10

Intersection, Amsterdam. It almost seems criminal sometimes to turn some of these images to black and white, but in this case I felt it was worth it to enhance the effect of the light falling between buildings on the opposite side of the street, silhouetting the man on the near traffic island.

D800-11

Bubbles, Carnaval celebration. This is another one of those shots that demonstrates how brilliant the Otus typically is. It’s pictures like this that have me wanting to think up some decent staged shots, find some models, then do some deliberate shoots to get a specific composition instead of hoping to find something interesting while walking around town.

D800-12

3 Conclusion

I have a hard time saying that I think either of these kits is better than the other because they are both clearly very capable systems. A funny thing about the handling of them is that while I wish the Otus didn’t weigh so much and was less bulky, using it is in some ways more comfortable than using the A7r. The A7r is easier to carry and less obtrusive, but I feel less in control of making the image than when I am using the Otus. I think this is because of the long throw on the Otus, which allows more fine focusing. With the A7r, I always worry that I’ve tapped the little focusing knuckle ring a little too far or not enough when taking a photo. Since I can tell whether it is in focus or not by using the EVF or Zacuto viewfinder, it is a silly concern to have, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling more confident when shooting the Otus. Having said all that, when selecting images for this article, I initially had almost twice as many Summilux shots as Otus shots as candidates. Is this because I unconsciously favor the Summilux? I wouldn’t know.

AP

Apr 292014
 

englishmaninny

An Englishman in New York.

By Paul Bartholomew

After following this site for a number of years and being intrigued by how a rangefinder camera experience might work out for me, I finally pushed the boat out and bought a pretty pristine used M9. My first lens was a Carl Zeiss f/1.5C Sonnar – I felt it would match the sort of portrait and model work I normally do with my 5D MKIII.

As a low depth-of-field junkie, I had this lens calibrated to focus at f/1.5 (it focus shifts and is set at f/2.8 by default but can be adjusted). Although I love the lens (and I still have and use it), it was the wrong first lens for me. Once I had the Leica, I was eager to get out of the studio and on to the street. Once there, I found the field of view of the 50mm was too restrictive for street work – I knew I would need another lens at some point.

Then, a few months ago I needed to go to a book-writing symposium in Michigan – both my wife and I were co-authors and we decided to spend a couple of days in New York en route. I knew that I would need that new lens
if I wanted to get some nice street images while I was there. After much deliberation looking at reviews of 35mm and 28mm lenses at this site (thanks Steve!) and others, I ended up buying the Carl Zeiss ZM 28mm f/2.8 Biogon. I’d already worked out that I was going to be shooting with a zone focusing technique at around about f/5.6 and so I felt that the Zeiss 28mm f/2.0 lens would just cost me more and be larger without giving me much more bang for my buck (or pound!). Of course I did look at Leica and Voigtlander options too, but the Carl Zeiss offerings just seemed to hit that sweet spot of image quality, build quality and price!

So, how did the lens choice work out? Below I offer a set of images configured as a bit of a photo-essay. All images were shot with the little 28mm lens, all have been square cropped and all were taken within walking distance of our midtown hotel. It was tempting to try to just shoot the edgy and the eclectic, but instead I wanted to acknowledge my identity as a tourist – an Englishman in New York, and to produce images that captured that context.

Below then, I first offer an index image to the photo-essay series and then the individual photos in a sequence. After the images, I finish this report with a few words by way of reviewing this great little lens and offer my thoughts on my adoption of the Leica M system. But first…

9 Blocks: An Englishman in New York

Image 1: Lure of the Empire

Lure of the Empire

Image 2: Lady on the Corner

The Woman on the Corner
Image 3: A populated space

A Populated Space
Image 4: Argument

Argument
Image 5: Nonstop

Nonstop
Image 6: Lunchtime

Lunchtime
Image 7: Skate

Skate
Image 8: View

View

Image 9: Don’t Walk

streetwalk

Why a Leica M?

Prior to buying my M9 I had hankered for a way of shooting that was more involving than the technically focussed SLR experience. I’d had a Olympus E410, a Canon 5DII and then my current Canon 5DIII. All capable tools – the 5DIII especially, but the experience of shooting DSLRs is, to my mind, rather like flying-by-wire – you control the electronics of the camera and the camera takes the shot. It’s all a bit sterile. My initial foray into trying to pull myself more into the shooting experience was to buy a Lensbaby Composer for my Canon – it forced me to focus manually, take my time and choose my moment. All good training for the Leica M to come!

When I invested in the Leica I was rewarded with exactly the sense of engagement I had hoped for – only it was much harder to shoot than I had anticipated! Using my 50mm f/1.5 at f/1.5 on the street was laughable - everybody moved too quick, I couldn’t keep up. Stepping the aperture down and zone focusing gave better results but the 50mm frame size was way too small for me to get decent results. I knew I needed a wider lens and (as you know) the 28mm f/2.8 was my choice.

So how does the lens perform? Well, on the streets of New York (and elsewhere since) it has been a fine choice. It feels really nicely made, the lens hood I bought for my 50mm seems to work just as well on the 28mm (I like to use a hood to protect the front element) and the quality of the images I have been getting – in terms of sharpness, contrast is exemplary.

Couple the image quality with a compact form factor and ladies and gentlemen we have a winner! Although I have little experience of other lenses on the M system, I still recommend this lens highly. I do have a bunch of Canon L
lenses and I would say the little Zeiss 28mm is my second favourite of all the lenses I own – second only to the rather special Canon 85mm f/1.2L II.

I know my M experience is limited, so perhaps I’ll splash out on a Leica lens for my M9 at some point – just to compare, but in the meantime the price and quality point of the Zeiss lens line up remains tempting and furthermore I’d contend that the ZM 28mm f/2.8 Biogon is right up there at the zenith of the quality/price curve.

Thanks for reading.

Paul

Nine Blocks

Apr 252014
 

Leica buys Steve Huff Photo!?!?! Whaaaat?

leica-ralph-gibson-m-monochrom-5-650x433-c

Hahahaha, got ya didn’t I? No, Leica has not bought this site even though a very few of you are leaving idiotic comments in my latest T review (see it here) implying that they did just because I loved the new T. I mean, really guys?

In any case, no..the site is not and has not been for sale and I will keep on and continue doing what I love to do here each and every day. That means that yes, more passionate reviews will be here over the years when something comes along that tugs at my heart and soul. Cameras that have done this in the past? Olympus E-M1 (where I was accused of being paid off by Olympus)..the Sony RX1 and RX1r (where I was accused of being in Sony’s back pocket)…the Leica M (where I was accused of just being a “fanboy”) or even the Nikon Df (where I was accused of now being a Nikon fanboy and paid by Nikon). Again, these are just comments from a very few, a teeny percentage of those who comment but it is absolutely ridiculous to even have one comment like this.

It is so funny to me that when I write a review with a lot of negatives or issues then people seem to get happy. Why is that? Are people just so negative and bitter that they love it when negative things are written? One reason I made the choice to NOT review cameras I do not like is because of this fact! See, I am ANTI negativity in life and ever since adopting this 5 years ago my life has changed for the better in every way, shape and form. A total transformation in my stress level (I have ZERO), happiness (I could not be more happier), and joy of life. It does not come from money (I am far far far from rich, live in a small cheap house in a not so great neighborhood) it comes from just being happy and knowing that we have one life to live here on this earth. Why ruin it by being bitter, nasty and negative all of the time? If you do not like something then so be it but to attack the messenger, that is nonsense.

Negativity come from jealousy, hate and an overall lack of happiness in life. It can be turned around if you really want it to.

To come to this site and leave idiotic comments such as “Leica must have paid Steve” or “Steve should change the name to stevehuffleica.com” or “Sony paid off Steve” or “Olympus owns Steve“..well, those are just comments that spawn from hatred, jealousy and people who are just not so happy in life…or people who own camera brand A when I praise camera brand B, something that fanboys do to attack me when I am not so nice to their chosen brand.

Many people in life (and I come across many of them) love to put others down because in some odd way it makes the feel better for a moment or two. They feel like they know it all, when they know absolutely NOTHING about what they are commenting about! I always laugh when people leave expert opinions on cameras they have never seen, touched or used. It really makes me laugh out loud sometimes. My written reviews are from experience using the cameras, and I use ALL cameras even though I do not write about all of them. So my opinions are based on actual use. Does not mean you have to agree with me, as we are all different in what we like, but what you read is always my honest opinion. Period.

To those saying I have always been paid off by Leica, let me fill you in on a history lesson because yes, you need to learn as you know nothing about my situation with Leica.

Back when I started version 1 of this website I started it by reviewing Leica gear. The Leica M8 to be exact. I started this very website (over at the now defunct stevehuffphotos.com, with an “s” at the end) 6 years ago only because I loved the M8 so much that I wanted to share my love for it with anyone who would be willing to read it. I did NOT want to start a review site at that time, I just wanted to write down my real thoughts from the heart on that camera that was getting some bad press from those who never even touched one (users, not reviewers). Again, the know it alls who knew nothing about the camera! I was taking the best photos of my life with that camera and those little M lenses and I thought it was an amazing thing, even if it had IR problems and high ISO noise after 640.

So yes it had issues, (which I wrote about in that review) but for its time, there was nothing quite like it in IQ or Usability/Feel. For me, it was a revelation and made me want to go out and use it every day, and I did just that. To me, that is #1 in a camera before ANYTHING else and is why I despise bug DSLR’s for daily use. Sure DSLRs have great quality and IQ but when they are so huge and heavy with a decent lens attached it makes me want to NOT use them! So I fell for the M8 hard because at the time, it was the only thing around that was high quality and inspired me.

After writing the M8 review on the old iWeb blog I started something very strange happened. After just a few days I started getting e-mails from those who found and read the review telling me how much they enjoyed it. Many said they went on to order the M8 for themselves. “Wow” I said to myself. That is so cool. I was able to convey my emotions and love for this “electronic memory maker” so much that a few readers bought one! It ranked up on the 1st page of google after a few days somehow and people were seeing it and some people were buying the M8 due to what I wrote.

Then more time goes by and each week is a repeat of the last with even more emails. I’d say each week I would get double the e-mail about that Leica M8 review. It was crazy. Then something really cool happened. I received an e-mail from the music artist Seal telling me he really enjoyed my review. Then he said “we should chat sometime about it”. Now here I was, living in Indiana in a VERY small town in a VERY inexpensive house with literally NO income (was taking a year off after selling a small Ice Cream shop) and all I did was share my thoughts on a Leica M8 camera and I was getting e-mail after e-mail thanking me and now and e-mail from a guy whose music I used to jam in my car and home. How cool is that? I ended up shooting his Chicago show a couple of months later and it was an amazing experience for me, as that was one of my goals in life..to shoot a concert like that with no restrictions. One of my images made his next tour program from that night.

As time went on Seal and I became great friends. He then introduced me to a Leica dealer named Ken Hansen who I immediately called to place a Leica order for the then new 28 Elmarit ASPH lens. I owned the M8 and then went for the 28 as my next lens to see how I would like it. Ken asked how I heard of him and I told him I was told all about him by Seal so he sent out the lens without getting payment up front. “Send me a check when you get it” he said. Wow. Amazing.

In any case I soon came up with an idea that would help benefit me and Ken but I had no idea if Ken would go for it as my site was so new with such little traffic. At the time there was no lens rental shop where I could rent Leica equipment so I asked Ken if I could rent lenses from him, review them and then send them back. I would pay him $50 or so for a week or two and in exchange he would get a link mention telling everyone that he supplied me with the lens. He was game for it and sent me a few lenses to try out. He told me he would send me used lenses if he had them and if he sent me a new lens he would sell it as used at a discount but he was up for seeing how it would go.

So I started reviewing Leica lenses on the M8 early on and each review got better and better and I really started to enjoy doing  them. No one online at the time was doing “real world” reviews. They were wall old school DP review tech style that were long and boring, to me anyway. None of them were done by anyone with real passion for photography. It was all about the money and business.  So I was indeed a bit different and was the very 1st real world review site that included all real world use photos, intense passion and even some personal posts that let everyone know just who I was and am. I even coined that real world term and because I reviewed in the style that I always wanted to see, and I was passionate at doing it it started to grow and grow. Much like the rock band KISS and how they started (now celebrating their 40th anniversary).

They started KISS because they wanted to be the band that they always wanted to see. At the time, most bands went up on stage in T-shirts and jeans and sang while standing still. KISS came out in makeup, outfits, and used fire and bombs while prancing around like maniacs. It worked because they brought excitement to the stage and with their passion and excitement at full force it brought the excitement level of the audience to the top. It was a great formula and one I used when creating this site.

I wanted to see a camera review site that I liked yet no one was doing it, so I decided after a few reviews to do just that and I dedicated myself to working on it every single day, and I did.

After the new reviews the site traffic was growing steadily and Ken Hansen decided I did not need to pay him a penny for the rentals. (as I was helping him by spreading the word about his services so he was getting a few orders). Ken has always been an amazing dealer and today I consider him the ONE guy that really made it possible for me to do this website, a true friend. Without his “rentals” early on this site would not exist today. Leica was no help at all back then and refused to even answer an email from me when I requested gear for review. That is, until traffic started to really grow and they started seeing the reviews and comments. Then they started to send me lenses by request and I no longer needs the Ken rentals ;)

As the new Noctilux came out, Leica sent me one to try for a few days. I always only had a few days, usually 2-4 days with a Leica product before they wanted it back. But I was just happy to get review samples. They then sent me a WATE for review.

As time went on Ken always helped me when he could and Seal helped me tremendously by inviting me on a couple of his tours and things just clicked. As I was on the Seal tour I met a ton of people who were fans of mine as well! It was so odd when walking in the airport one day with Seal and his band and someone ran up and said “are you…STEVE HUFF“! Lol. It was amusing to say the least. But that was not a regular occurrence. It happened sparingly but was still very cool to meet those who enjoyed my reviews and talk cameras for a bit.

So the more I shot with Leica the more I became attached to the cameras and lenses. I shot the entire Seal tours with a Leica M9, Noctilux and 35 cron. Many said I was nuts to trust it but I never had an issue that wasn’t fixable (until my noctilux fell apart during a show). I even managed to get an album cover using the M9 and Noctilux. So to me, Leica has always been my camera of choice due to MANY reasons, not just image quality. It has given me some of my best memories and usability also goes a long way with me. I remember  one night Seal handed me a Canon 1d MKIV or something like that and told me to try it out for a show. It was nice, it was HUGE, it was a beast and weighed as much as my Mini cooper. I did not like the experience of using it. I missed my M9 and manually focusing as it was a challenge. Snapping away with blazing AF and a zoom was NOT a challenge for me. It was boring and dull to me so I ditched that 1d and went back to the M9. Ahhh, heaven.

As time went on and the site grew and grew and more users were leaving comments, anytime I reviewed a Leica product I was called a “fanboy” by a few in the comments section. The Leica “haters” who hated Leica for one reason or another but probably because they could not afford it or because they see Leica as an “elite” brand who offer no value for the money, which is 100% not true BTW.  For the record, I was one who could never afford Leica but because I skimped on everything else in life I managed to get by with the M8, then M9 and a lens or two. I was not rich, not even close to it..not even well off but I knew that if I could own one thing it would be a Leica M. It gave me enjoyment in life.

As for the silly Leica hating commenters, for whatever reason they were always there, the minority of course, but they would come to my FREE site and bitch that I wrote nice things about a product that did amazing things for me. Made no sense. Over time I learned to laugh at these individuals as they were clearly so bitter in life that they felt better by attacking me. I would just reply with “I am a Leica fanboy 100%! I love their cameras as to me there is nothing like them and if that makes me a fanboy then so be it”!

As time went on I continued to review Leica and other camera brands that ticked my buttons. As Micro 4/3 was taking off with the E-P1 and GX7 one time Leica told me via email “stop reviewing that Micro 4/3 so much and write more about Leica”. This is from someone who is no longer with the Leica company but I responded with a chuckle like “yea, right”. I thought that was odd. But the more I wrote about other cameras the more I was ignored by Leica. Did not really matter to me at all but I thought it was a bit rude. I always had Ken to get my back if I need a product for review so all was good with me. Time marched on, Leica announced the X2 and Monochrom. I was invited to Berlin, surprisingly, to see the launch of the New revolutionary MM. I flew from AZ to Berlin (courtesy of Leica which surprised me) to witness the launch and I thought I would be able to test the camera so I could write a 1st look report and inform all of the readers here about the capabilities of the MM!

That was not the case.

When I arrived I saw familiar faces like Thorsten Overgaard, Eric Kim, Jono Slack, Sean Reid and many others who were also flown in for the event (though I think Thorsten drove). We all had dinner, had fun and attended the big shindig that night. What I saw was mostly over the top people with bow ties and suites, and from what I gathered, very rich people who were also acting the part. Nothing at all like me or my personality. I said to myself “So is this the real Leica? Not many here are anything like me..maybe they do want these cameras for the red dot and the prestige”. It was clear many there did only want that but there were also a handful there who were just like me, passionate about their cameras and photography. All was not lost.

I walked the room and was stopped every few feet by someone who recognized me from my reviews. I chatted with those people and had a great time. Then the camera was launched and then it was over. What? I do not even get to touch an MM? I flew across the USA to Berlin for a 3 hour event without even getting to touch a Leica MM? I was surprised by this for a few reasons but one of them was because a few of the guys I know who also write reviews.who were here..well, they all had an MM (besides me and Thorsten) in hand, with them. But when I asked my contacts at Leica they gave me a quick “let me see what I can do” and then ignored me and dodged me most of the night. Even my then buddy Seal called one of the top Leica guys and said “you really should get a camera into Steve’s hands so he can review it. It would be beneficial”. But no luck. I did not expect to take home an MM for review, just to hold one, fire off a few shots. I mean, they had them there but for some reason was not allowing me to see one. So why fly me there? Just thought it was odd.

At the end of the night I went to my room and wrote a report on the event and mentioned there were no cameras to be found for me to try. Maybe they were not happy that I was covering the launch with my Olympus E-M5 :)

The next morning it was magically arranged for me to test an MM camera. It was presented to me in one way but the reality of it was that it was set up by Leica through a third party to allow me ONE HOUR of use of the camera, with a chaperone. :)

That was good enough for me as I spent that hour walking the street of rainy berlin and was able to report on the camera so all of the readers here could see some info and my input on it. It was perfect and worked out great.

I was told I would get a review sample soon. But that was drug out and I was one of the last to get one for review. It was fine with me though as I did not care, I just wanted to review it. Besides, Ken Hansen would have helped me out if Leica didn’t so it did not mater to me. In fact, I preferred to go through Ken at this point and did purchase one from him.

Fast forward to the M. By now Leica was not sending me review samples anymore. In fact, my one contact there was gone and no one wold reply to my emails. I remember even Thorsten Overgaard trying to figure out what was happening and he called Dr. Kauffman on my behalf to tell him that they should really set me up with a contact in the USA for review samples. Still, no go though I was invited (but not flown out) for the M launch after Thorstens phone call. But I could not make it as it was the same time as my Photo Cruise! No M 240 review sample for me…

…So Ken hooked me up with the M 240 as I was put on his pre-order list as soon as I knew it was in the works. In other words, I was at the top of his pre-order list because I put myself there before anyone. I may have been 2nd or 3rd but I was able to by one from Ken. So I did a huge review of the M 240 (here) praising it as the best thing ever, and to me it was and still is (I still own it)! I love this camera. During that review there was so much hatred from Leica bashers and I was called the same things by those same few people and a few new ones who could not fathom the value of an M…”fanboy”, “Leica paid off Steve”, etc. Little did they know that Leica was not even communicating with me at this time and they did not even send me a review unit yet I was hearing things like “Steve gets free cameras from Leica, that is why he is positive to them“. But I let it bounce off of me as always and did not care as I still loved the Leica M 240 and knew it was the camera for me and I would never change my stance when it is all based on honesty, as all of my reviews are. If there was any bitterness between me and Leica that did not mean I would hate their camera, not at all. If it is good it is good. Expensive yes, but for me worth it.

Then came the X-Vario where I tore it apart and exposed the weaknesses and praised the positives. I was hard on it because it has a few issues that bothered me in real world use, though IQ was not one of them. After that review I had emails from some saying that I pissed off Leica! How could I piss them off if I was just being honest? Being honest about a camera is how it should be so the companies can FIX the issues in a later version or with firmware. Same thing I did with Fuji. I was hard on them because they had issues, real issues that other cameras did not have, at least in my eyes. They fixed just about all of those now in the X-T1. That is how companies get feedback. But a few of these camera companies are something else. Write bad things and they ignore you (as Fuji does with me to this day) but write positive things and they love you. Them moral of the Story is that I am always honest in what I write, it comes from the heart. Any excitement you see or read is legitimate and is how I truly feel. I could care less if that means a camera company stops sending me review samples because today I can just buy or rent them if I want to review them.

Paid off by anyone I am not.

So with the X-Vario I predicted a sales flop and it was/is. I predicted the X2 would not even come close to the X1 sales, it did not. I predicted the X1 would sell in droves..it did. I predicted the M9 and M 240 would do very well, they did and are. So my track record is good when predicting Leica sales.

With the new T I predict a winner for Leica. They WILL sell a ton of these just as they did the original X1. I say that not because I am paid off by Leica, but because I truly feel that after using the new camera for just a a week. It is a good product and as I said in my review, to those who like to own nice things, including a camera, then the T will be appealing to them. There is nothing wrong with the T, it is a highly capable camera and produces beautiful files from the camera. I could also care less if the sensor is older..even if it was 10 years old I would not care as long as it performed, and it does. Plain and simple. Is it the perfect dream camera? NO! Not even close but it is the 1s Leica to break ground and be original, and yes, it is original in its build, feel, in use and quality.

When I made the Sony RX1 my camera of the year for 2102 I was labeled a Sony fanboy .When I made the Olympus E-M1 the camera of the year  for 2013 over the Leica M, I was labeled an Olympus fanboy and many wondered why I did not make the M 240 my pick. When I tore apart the Fuji X-Pro 1, I was labeled a Fuji hater who only loved Leica and Sony. When I praised the Nikon Df I was instantly a “Nikon fanboy” which made me laugh out loud. I mean, to those saying these things..are you really that miserable in life that you have to sit around on web sites like mine just to make bitter and mean comments that have zero truth to them? Does it really make you feel better about yourself? If so, then you may need help. :)

I mean, ridiculous statements and comments that are not only rude but disrespectful to me..the one who works day in and day out to provide FREE information while getting very little back in the way of monetary compensation. I do this as it is my a passion of mine. Something I love to do. I live a simple life in a small cheap house, a small car and not much in life besides my cameras and HiFi because I love it. I would not have it any other way as it is a part of me. If you do not like what I say then there is an easy solution! DO NOT READ what I write! Go on, I dare you! The funniest thing is that those who complain always come back for more. They can not get away from the site and read all reviews I write. I guess that is why this site now enjoys the success that it does. The haters are even regulars :)

No matter what company makes a camera..if it is good and gets me excited to shoot it then I am in and will state my honest feelings about it.

As for me and Leica, well yes they did supply me with the T for review but in all reality, they had no choice. Look at the review. It has now had over 150,000 views and well over 400 comments in about 28 hours. That is a HUGE amount of exposure for them and the new camera. If it was a bad camera I would have said so. It is what it is! I am happy to work with any and all camera companies to test and do real world reviews of their products but beware, I will be honest. Like I said, it is a passion of mine and I will never go through the motions and rush a review. When I really like something, wether that is from Leica, Sony, Olympus, Nikon, etc then you will indeed know it.

So there you go. To all of you who have been coming here over the years I thank you all for your support, friendship, kindness and help in keeping this baby of mine going. To those who come here to bitch and moan, I do not feel you should come here but I appreciate you as well as yo do indeed add to my hit count at the end of the day! To those who will be offended at what I said here then I am guessing you will leave a nasty comment (never fails) in reply yet again. Well, it will be deleted if you do or not approved. Not dealing with it and it has no place here (one guy who felt offended and said I aimed my post at him dared me to approve his comment..seriously?). Don’t like it, move on back over to the other sites that welcome such nonsense and hate.

I hope you all have a great weekend and see you back here on Monday! BUT there is more to come today so check back later :) I will be out this weekend with the Mitakon 50 0.95 for E mount with the A7 and new A6000 (which is pretty sweet BTW).

1st test shot with the A6000 and Mitakon 50 0.95 at 0.95! This lens will focus as close as .5 meters. 

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Apr 242014
 

Leica T Pre-Order links and more reviews!

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With the Leica T review going live this morning at 6AM, or 12 hours ago it has enjoyed 98,000 views and almost 300 comments. Wow! As expected, the comments are mixed as it always is with any Leica product review or announcement. One one side you have the Leica haters and on the other you have the Leica fans. Then you have those who just appreciate nice things. Doesn’t matter, we have loads of choices these days and it is always best to buy a camera that MOVES YOU, no matter what it is.

Now that the T review is done and the camera has been shipped back to Leica I am hard at work on a new review for the Mitakon 50 f/0.95 lens I spoke about yesterday. I will be reviewing the new Sony A6000 (in hand) with the lens as well as the A7 so we can see how the lens does on an APS-C and full frame. I was told by Sony yesterday that I should be getting an A7s soon for review..well, not sure HOW soon, but soon-ish. Should be fun.

More T Reviews!

As for  the Leica T, let’s continue on with T day! I found all of the other reviews online besides mine and will link to the ones I really enjoyed. The more you know about it the better!

The one I enjoyed the most is from a guy I have huge respect for. I feel he is an amazing photographer and he also had the T for about 8 days. He was able to test it with BOTH lenses and came away with some gorgeous shots and interesting thoughts on the camera. Check out the review of the T from Kristian Dowling HERE. 

Next up is the review from Jono Slack, who always has a cheerful review of the latest Leica. Check out his thoughts on the T HERE. Be sure to click through to his sample images HERE.

Sean Reid who runs a pay review site published his review on the T this morning as well. You can see it here if you are a paid member.

So check those out if you like. There are 1-2 more online that can be found through google but all seem to say the same thing about the T ;)

Pre-Order Links

You can pre-order the T and all accessories or lenses at the direct links below:

B&H Photo has it listed HERE

Ken Hansen is taking pre-orders. Just e-mail him at [email protected] and tell him you want to pre-order your T!

PopFlash.com is taking orders as well!

The Pro Shop for photographers is all ready to take your pre-order.

Leica Store Miami is also taking pre-orders HERE.

Amazon has yet to put up the T for pre-order..not sure why they are so late to the game.

The T will ship in about a month from today give or take a few days. 

 

 

Apr 212014
 

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New Leica announcement on Thursday the 24th.

It is getting closer and it is official! On Thursday April 24th Leica will announce something new…and guess what? If you come here on the 24th you may just see way more than you ever expected to see. ;) So come back Thursday morning for a treat. It has been said there is a surprise to this release as well. Guess what? I know the surprise and you will know as well, in full detail on Thursday.

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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 142014
 

Hi Steve and Brandon

I am an amateur photographer from the Netherlands living and working in Curacao, Dutch caribbean.

I am using Leica equipment for the last 15 years. Currently I own the M Monochrom and M240. My day-to-day lens is the Summilux 35/1.4. Since my Monochrom is for sensor cleaning (oil smear:) and sensor repair in Wetzlar, I used the M240 for B&W. And I agree with your earlier conclusion that a M240 is capable to make as good B&W images as the MM. Nevertheless, I find the MM more pleasant to work with, I would like to show you 3 pictures that I made with the M240 at a dusty baseball field in Jan Doret, Curacao. Jan Doret is a poor area on the Island. Base Ball players in Curacao dream of a contract in the US leagues and some of them are indeed successful, like Andrew Jones. Baseball is the national sport on the Island. I am making a serie on this field. A few others from this series, which were made with the Monochrom, are displayed at the Leica Store in Miami at the moment.

http://leicastoremiami.com/blogs/news-events/12825961-customer-gallery-hans-van-leeuwens-curacao

I hope to hear from you and to receive feedback !

Thank you !

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