Sep 142013
 

What lenses I would buy with the new Olympus E-M1

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With the new (now a #1 best seller on Amazon) E-M1 scheduled to hit the shops in about 2-3 weeks I have been getting asked repeatedly “what lenses should I buy with it”. Well, buying a lens is almost like buying underwear. It’s all personal preference, lol. But even so, there are some superb lenses for this system and in case you did not know it, yes, you can use Panasonic lenses made for Micro 4/3 on a Olympus Micro 4/3 body and vice versa.

In the mirrorless world some of my favorite lenses come from Micro 4/3. Below is a list (and some alternatives) of what I would buy if I were diving fresh into Micro 4/3 with the new E-M1 camera, which I predict will be the best Micro 4/3 to date in all areas but looks (GX7 or a PEN  takes that prize).

The Camera

The new Olympus E-M1 is a big deal in the Micro 4/3 world as it is the 1st “Pro” body that is weather proof and freeze proof. It is blazing fast, has the worlds best Image Stabilization IN BODY and has eliminated the AA filter. The build, feel and performance are quite amazing. You can order the camera at Amazon or B&H Photo or PopFlash.com and I expect this one to be a big seller because even while pricey at $1399, it is much cheaper than other alternatives. In other words, this is priced right for what you are getting in my opinion.

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Wide Angle

My fave: The fast aperture of f/2 allows the Olympus 12mm f/2 to shoot in lower light while getting sharp and colorful images. The 12mm is a premium lens for the Micro 4/3 system giving you a 24mm equivalent.

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There are a few GREAt wide-angle choices but depending on how wide and how fast you want to go will decide what to get.

**The best bang for the buck will be in blue bold text!**

**My favorite will be in RED text!**

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Olympus 12mm f/2A beautiful little lens and a favorite of mine even though I find it a little on the pricey side today with so much competition. GORGEOUS in the all black edition (which is no longer sold) this lens offers AF speed that is FAST, focus accuracy and a fast f/2 aperture along with close focusing and nice manual focusing features. It is small, light and looks the part. The key word is SMALL. :) A 24mm equivalent t in focal length.

Panasonic 14 f/2.5 - Smaller and flatter than the 12mm and just about as good image quality wise. It is not as fast to AF (but still super fast) and it is not as slick as the 12mm but it is MUCH cheaper at $340 or so. Almost $400 less than the Olympus. You lose a half of a stop going from f/2 to f/2.5 as well as 2mm but you save cash while getting a fantastic lens. A 28mm equivalent. 

Olympus 9-18 Zoom – This is a wide-angle little jewel. I have not yet reviewed it (but will be VERY soon on the E-M1) but have tried it and if you want versatility with an effective focal range of 18-36 this is your guy. Sharp, great color and while slow in the aperture department many of us will not need a fast aperture for this focal length. This lens sells for $699. Review SOON.

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Standard Angle

My Fave: The Voigtlander 25 f/0.95 is a large, heavy and powerful lens on Micro 4/3. If you love your shallow DOF but want sharpness and great color, this is it. Just be prepared for manual focus only! Should do very well on the E-M1 with the huge EVF. 

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New Olympus 12-40 – The new super pro zoom by Olympus could end up being my new fave. No, I am not usually a zoom guy but this one is special. Superb quality, superfast AF and a semi fast f/2.8 aperture. Expensive but should be worth it to those who like zooms with a constant f/2.8 aperture. Weather proof as well and will kick the 12-50 to the curb. $999. Review SOON.

Panasonic 20 1.7 IIA powerhouse pancake with a small design. Not the fastest to AF but it has become a legend for its size, price and output. You can not go wrong with this lens, period. Review is HERE.

Panasonic 25 1.4 - Another legendary favorite for Micro 4/3. This one is deliciously good but around $500 or so and it is larger and noisier to AF than the 20. Gives you a little more magic over the 20 so up to you if the expense and size is worth it. This is also a fave of mine but the “bang for the buck” goes to the 20 1.7II. My review is HERE.

Voigtlander 17 or 25 0.95These are beasts. Heavy, Large and of HIGH quality build. All manual and much like shooting an old (or new) Leica lens in feel. Sharp at 0.95 and with a fantastic character and Bokeh. I love the 17.5 and 25 but if pressed with only owing one 25 (50mm equiv) I would go for the 25 f/0.95 or the 25 1.4 from Panasonic. These are around $1000 so they are the most expensive. When you hold one you will wonder why they are not $1500 :)

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Want Some reach?

The Voigtlander 42.5 at f/0.95 is beautiful. :) 

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Olympus 45 1.8This is almost a MUST own. A 90mm equivalent and coming it at around $349 this lens is so worth it that if you own a nice Micro 4/3 camera and do not own this lens you should really reconsider that thought. Fantastic in every way. For me, limited use as I am not a 90mm guy but for those who are, this one rocks. Priced right. My review of this lens is HERE.

Voigtlander 42.5Another Voigtlander masterpiece! The 42.5 gives us an 85mm f/0.95 equivalent. Amazing sharp lens and you can see my review HERE. Not cheap but fills out the Voigtlander trinity of lenses for Micro 4/3 which gives us a 35, 50 and now 85mm, all f/0.95! Top quality here guys. You can buy this from CameraQuest HERE.

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More? How about a Telephoto!

The 75 1.8 will give you a 150mm equivalent so if you are shy, and want to keep some distance, this lens will let you do it.

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Olympus 75 1.8 – Ahhhhhh, one of the best pieces of glass in the Micro 4/3 lineup, period. This lens is a masterpiece but long at 150mm (equivalent). Still, this is one of those special lenses and it feels, looks and performs like a million bucks. In black it is super sexy as well. Not very large or heavy but just right with fast AF as well. Bravo Olympus. My review is HERE.

Panasonic 35-100 This is in the high quality premo line for Panasonic and it does not come cheap but from what I hear, it is a great high quality tele option. $1500!

Panasonic 100-300 – The budget telephoto with some serious power and high quality. Many swear by this guy, and if you want REACH…as in 600mm equivalent, this is the best $600 you can spend on your Micro 4/3 for a native lens. 

Olympus 40-150This $149 lens can not be beat for the price. It is a bit lightweight in the build but delivers good performance across the 40-150 range giving you an 80-300 equivalent. $149 at B&H Photo. 

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Specialty Lenses – Macro and Fisheye

The E-M5 and Panasonic 8mm Fisheye – GREAT special effect lens. But make sure to GET CLOSE!

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Panasonic 8mm Fisheye – I have shot with the cheap manual focus Rokinon fisheye and the quality Panasonic 8mm fisheye and I LOVED the 8mm from Panasonic the most. It feels nice, build is superb as is performance. This is a great special effect lens for occasional up close use. I love it. You can see my review HERE. Amazon sells this beauty via PRIME.

The Olympus 60 Macro is AMAZING. Highly recommended for Macro lovers. 

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The Olympus 60mm Macro - Probably the best Macro lens I have personally used or tested. Superb lens. $499 at Amazon. My full review is HERE.

 

Mar 062013
 

frontlenssum

COMING SOON: Leica M 240 review, Fuji X100s Review and more!

 

The new M..review is coming

Hello to all! Happy Wednesday! I know many of you come here every day for something new so I just wanted to give you an update as to what is coming in the next 7-14 days as well as let you know of some cool rare items available for purchase.

The Leica M 240 has been in my hands since the moment it arrived. I have been shooting with it non stop, taking video, testing ISO, comparing it against the M9 and RX1 and having a good time in the process, It is always fun to shoot with a new Leica, even if it is a controversial new model! I have been shooting with a 35, 50 and 75 and each lens has delivered without issues. I have been testing the EVF (BTW, the Olympus VF-2 works exactly as the Leica EVF as they are the same but it says OLYMPUS instead of LEICA..yes, I have an Olympus and have shot it on the M without any issue) and even the add-on Microphone.

Each day after shooting I sit down for 2-3 hours and write down my thoughts which will then turn into my full real world review. Warning: It will be long. There will be many samples and full size downloads. There will be comparisons and of course all of  my ramblings and thoughts on the new M and wether it is an improvement or downgrade from the M9/M9-P/M-E. Stay tuned!

One thing is for certain, I am adoring the 50 Lux on the camera. That lens never seems to disappoint.

 

Fuji X100s!

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I have a Fuji X100s on the way from Robert Jagitsch. He is a Fuji dealer and also sells Leica as well. He informed me he has a Monochrom in stock. I do not know of anyone else who has one right now so if you are looking for one, Robert is a great guy and you can message him here. He set me up with my original Fuji X100 and now the X100s. Thanks Robert!

The X100s should arrive to me in the next couple of days so when it arrives look for my 1st look video and snaps and then a full review will follow but it will come after the M 240 review. Shortly after. Then I will probably offer the X100s for sale as I already have an RX1 and new M so I really do not need the new Fuji..unless it gives me some super-duper magic that the others do not give me :) We shall see. At the price point of $1299 the X100s offers quite a bit. I am excited to see how much better it is over the X100s in operation and speed and even IQ.

 

Leica glass…Black Paint 35 Summicron anyone?

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Dale Photo has a black paint 35 Summicron for sale in silver box and it looks brand new. My guess is a collector owned it at one time and never used it. I used to own this lens and I am an idiot for selling it. Was gorgeous and the best 35 cron I have owned. Black Paint lenses are now pretty rare to find and seem to fetch a pretty penny. You can see the one dale has HERE.

 

ALL Leica glass..

Ken Hansen (email: [email protected]) told me he has just about every and any Leica lens in stock. 90 Summicron, 50 Lux ASPH, Noctilux, you name it, he should have it RIGHT NOW. You can e-mail him at [email protected]  – get your desired lens before the new M mania hits :) Remember what the M9 did for Leica glass? I do.

The Pro Shop also has just about every lens in stock. You can call them at 561-253-2606. They are also now a Pro Nikon dealer. D4 in the house.

PopFlash.com has some crazy deals going on including a basically untouched Noctilux 0.95 for under $10k. A 75 Cron for $3397 and even a 35 Lux ASPH FLE for $4497. They also still have a few RED Artisan & Artist easy slider straps available. They sold out their 1st two shipments of the black one but still have some red HERE. The red is striking on an RX1, Fuji X100s and black M. :)

 

WIN a Moncochrom by entering the I-SHOT-It premium contest

Wow, I checked on the B&W photo contest over at I-SHOT-IT today and so far the cash prize is up to $5,230 and they are also giving an $8000 Leica monochrom to the winner. The contest has under 30 days to go and I bet the cash prize gets up to $6-$7k by the time it is over. Imagine winning a Monochrom and all of that cash just by entering a killer B&W photo. I love what they are doing over there. You can check them out here or see who has entered what in the B&W contest HERE.

 

Feb 122013
 

IMG_249283

Amazing DEAL on Sigma NEX Lenses – $199 for BOTH the 19 and 30mm 2.8 together, $99 each!

The most amazing deal is still going in at B&H Photo and they have these IN STOCK. Both excellent Sigma lenses for the NEX Sony E Mount system – the 19 2.8 and the 30 2.8 (which you can see my review of HERE)  – both of them for $199 total, for both together! This is a STEAL. At $199 the 30 2.8 was already a deal. At $199 for BOTH it is a VERY crazy deal. These are good lenses and even come with cases. To be clear, you get BOTH lenses with cases for $199. Amazon has each lens for $149 which comes out to $100 more, so this is a great buy everyone!

Don’t miss out. If you want to take advantage of this deal, B&H Has them listed HERE. Last time they did this they sold out quick.

IMG_249254

 

Dec 292012
 

bothtt

Gorgeous new SLR Magic Hyperprime 35mm T0.95 and 35 T1.4 arrives for testing!

The “Noctlux” for your APS-C Mirrorless

The 35 T 0.95 Hyperprime ASP-H M mount Lens

So..you want a super fast, super sharp, super built, super bokeh 50mm equivalent cream machine for your Sony NEX, Fuji X or EOS-M camera? How about a 70mm equivalent for your Micro 4/3?  Want one for each system without having to buy three different lenses? I know I do..and such a lens has just arrived to the Huff Household. Yep,  UPS arrived yesterday with a huge box from SLR Magic and what the box held were two lenses I have been excited to review for a few weeks now. One of them is the premium 35mm APS-H Hyperprime (their premium quality line of lenses)  and I have to say that it is a BEAUTY.

It’s large, hefty, built like a solid brick and is a damn nice T0.95 lens, which in F stop land means about f/0.92! This is the 50mm equivalent 0.95 lens for APS-C mirrorless camera shooters! Almost Like having a Noctilux for your Fuji X or NEX, speed wise anyway :)

t0.95onnex

hyperprimonnex

This is an all manual lens designed for ALL of the popular mirrorless systems. You can shoot this one lens  on the NEX system, Fuji X system, EOS-M or Micro 4/3 system. How so you ask? Well, when ordering you just choose which system you want to use it with but the beauty of it all is that if you own 2 or 3 or all of these systems you only need ONE lens and it will be compatible with all of your cameras using an adapter.

This lens is actually an M mount design but not to be used on an M camera. Instead SLR Magic made it in the M mount because so many adapters are made for this mount. So this one lens can be used on almost any mirrorless system with an adapter. This was a great move IMO. For example, if I have a Fuji X camera and an OM-D and a NEX-6 or 7, this one lens can be shot on all of them. Awesome.

One thing I found while doing test shots is that even with focus peaking set to on with the NEX-6 this lens is a beast to focus correctly when shooting wide open. It has a massively razor thin level of DOF at T0.95 so your focus has to be pinpoint precise or else the images will be slightly soft at the focus point if you miss.

A quick OOC JPEG at T 0.95 and the Sony NEX-6  – remember this is wide open at T0.95 

095atbar

The particular lens that was sent to me was shipped with the Sony E Mount adapter so I will be testing it on the NEX-6 (see 1st three OOC JPEGS above) and then later the Fuji X system as soon as I get an adapter for it. It appears the Fuji adapter will not work correctly but there are some that will and SLR Magic will be shipping them with their own Fuji adapter that will work just fine.

Out of the box, this lens looks pretty bad ass but I can not speak enough about how large it is. IT IS LARGE. So if you are hoping for something small this is not your lens. If you want super quality Bokeh and image quality it just might be your lens. The packaging is solid this time around with the lens and adapter encased in solid foam so there is no chance of shipping damage (unless the UPS guys decide to play soccer with it). I am excited to review this one.

A couple of B&W JPEGS with the NEX-6 wide open at T0.95

debbybw

debby feet

This 35mm T0.95 APS-H Hyperprime  lens will be selling for $1349 starting in February 2013 from SLR Magic and that is a decent price considering their 50 T0.95 for M mount was nearing the $5k mark (this was mainly due to the RF coupling and it being a full frame lens). In the same price range as this lens is the Voigtlander 35 1.4 in M mount. Many use that lens as their fast 35 on their mirrorless systems and love it but from what I have seen, this lens just may surpasses that one in Image Quality and Bokeh when used on mirrorless cameras. The only negative is that you can use the Voigtlander on an M camera as it is a full frame lens. Again, This SLR Magic is NOT full frame so while it has an M mount, it is not compatible with M cameras.

The soon to be released SLR Magic 35 T0.95 HYPERPRIME premium lens. (all product shots with Sony RX1)

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35t95front

For those of you who have seen my review on the previous SLR Magic hyper prime, the 50 T0.95 for Leica M mount you may remember that I loved it and declared it to be just about equal to the Leica Noctilux f0.95 in image quality (in real world use) and I preferred the Bokeh of the SLR Magic. The construction of the Leica Noctilux is better (as is the resale value) but for all out IQ the HyperPrime was amazing. I never had one issue with it on my Leica M9-P or the Monochrom. It was large and heavy but it packed some serious glass. Unfortunately, as far as I know this lens is no longer shipping in the USA (the 50 T0.95) so if you managed to snag one, you have a rare lens in your collection :)

This new 35 T/0.95 seems to have rock solid construction and design, is much less expensive with maybe even better build quality and is a T0.95 35mm which will be like a T0.95 50mm on APS-C mirror-less cameras. Finally a fast and exotic 50mm for your APS-C. BUT, can it deliver the goods? I am not sure yet as I just got it so I will be shooting it in Vegas next week to give it a workout.

I will not know anything until I thoroughly use it but from the looks and feel it is impressive. This lens will come in at $1349 and will be available from SLR Magic starting February 2013. They are also offering $100 off for early buyers so keep an eye out here for info.

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The SLR Magic 35 T1.4 for APS-C

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SLR Magic also sent me their new 35 T1.4 lens to test out on the Fuji X-E1 and this lens is coming in at only $349. It is a budget lens but it certainly does not look or feel like one. This lens is also available for all other mirrorless systems but will come in whatever mount you order it in. The one that I was sent is for Fuji X and for a $349 lens this is one hell of a well built lens. Metal construction with the weight of a Leica 50 Summilux ASPH. This is no cheap toy lens in the construction department and the packaging is just as nice as the Hyperprime lens.

Andrew from SLR Magic told me they have tweaked their packaging and it shows.

This lens is not up to par with the T0.95 Hyperprime in the IQ department but it is not designed to be. This $349 lens is built for Bokeh it seems as it delivers a rich and creamy out of focus rendering with bit of softness to the images when shot at 1.4 wide open. The lens seems to sharpen up by 2.8 but even wide open will give you a soft etheral look.

35t1.4front

What is nice about this lens is the build and the fact that you can order it NOW in any mount you want. This is what SLR Magic told me about the availability of this lens:

“The 35mm T1.4 is available now. We have it for X mount, E mount, EF-M mount, and mFT mount. It is not up on our website or eBay yet but people can already order by emailing us at [email protected] to get it before it is up on our website. We have already sold a bunch for the mFT version”.

So you can order  this lens now if you desire and what is even better is that if you bought one of their older 35 1.7 toy lenses you can trade it in for a $90 credit towards this new lens (which is a much nicer lens than the toy lens in build and IQ). Also, if you order by Feb 2013 you can take $70 off of the price:

“We have two programs

A) Owners of the SLR Magic 35mm f/1.7 can ship their lens back to Hong Kong for trade-in at $90 value to upgrade.

B) If bought by Feb 2012 from us we have a $70 promotional rebate program.”

So if you buy this lens by Feb 2013 it will come in at only $279. Great buy for any mirrorless camera system if you want great Bokeh and a unique quality. This lens is not a pin sharp lens when used at 1.4 or f/2. It sharpens up by F2.8. I will be reviewing this lens as well with the Fuji X-E1 so stay tuned!

A couple of OOC JPEGS to show Bokeh Quality and expected sharpness at 1.4

“Best Beer in the world Part 2″

351.4bar

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“Goodbyes”

351.4air

 Remember that this is an all manual lens so you will have to manually focus and manually set Aperture on the lens barrel. Much like using a Leica M lens on your mirrorless camera. Both of these new lenses also have clickless aperture rings as they are “Cine” lenses which happen to be great for videos as well.

So if you want to order this 35 T 1.4 lens for your system you can e-mail SLR Magic for details at [email protected]. My full reviews will be coming soon on both of these.

 

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Aug 202012
 

MY THREE LEICA KINGS by Tuananh Nguyen

A shout out to Mr. Steve Huff for setting us up with the sweetest and most bitchin’ photography site to date! I also have to thank all of you folks that have written some of the most entertaining, knowledgeable, and opinionated “inspirations” that have not only inspired my photography, but I am sure also to the growing members on this site. Although I understand the need for numerous reviews on newer products, I’ve always enjoyed reading articles on the “classics”, if not just as much, but maybe event a tad more. So on this note, I wanted to share my knowledge on three of Leica’s classical lenses, or what I would call as “my three kings”.

After my initiation into the Leica clan many years ago, I’ve had a chance to use some of the best optics in the world in both the pre- and post-digital age. I started out this love affair with my beloved Leica M2 and 50mm Summicron Dual Range, which I believe is as perfect as a camera can be. Its classic lines, dependability, and “glowing” images matched my style of photography and it also gave validation for my abandonment of the SLR idea. I’ve since owned both the M8 and M9, which I feel are the epitome of the digital rangefinder. The M9’s pixel count, full-frame CCD image characteristics, and classical build were all that I would ever dream in a camera (even in light of the advent of the M10 release).

Over the years, I’ve had countless opportunities to lend and own a long list of Leica lenses. But after a lot of “soul searching” I’ve concluded that there are three lenses that I found to have earned the title of “My Three Kings”: 50mm Noctilux-M (f/1.0 attached hood), 35mm Summicron-M (Type IV), and 90mm Summicron (Generation II, red numbering). Below, I will briefly summarize why I believe that these lenses are my favorite, but I will also include drawbacks when it is necessary.

 

Leica 90mm Summicron (Generation II)

After trying out a diverse group of Leica-M 75mm, 85mm, 90mm, and 135mm lenses, I’ve concluded that the 90mm Summicron was the best for me. Although the lens is much larger than the later editions, especially with the built in tripod mount, and odd filter size, I felt that it gave the most character out of all of these longer focal length lenses. As a portrait lens, the 90mm Summicron is soft and gives a nice glowing rendition, which is even more pronounced in the B&W images that it produces. Although not the sharpest lens in the Leica lineage, its excellent DOF/”bokeh” is silky smooth and excellent as a pure portraiture lens.

 

Leica 35mm Summicron-M (Type IV)

In the 1990’s, Leica lenses were expensive but not to the extent as they are today, especially in the used market. I was able to collect several editions of the 35mm and give them a thorough “shootout” before I decided which one was the keeper. I also tested out some wider angle Leica lenses, but I realized that the additional viewfinder was often obtrusive and it just didn’t fit my style of street photography with the Leica M2. The Type IV, also renowned as “The King of Bokeh” was my choice, simply because it was very compact and light, the replaceable lens hood was very affordable and easily attainable, and the new concaved focusing tab was an excellent focusing tool for such a small lens. This lens is exceptionally sharp but maintains that Leica “glow” and signature, more so than the other generations at this focal length. I chose this lens above all other wide-angles and aperatures because I felt that it had great balance for price, image quality, and compactness.

 

Leica 50mm Noctilux-M

Many Leica users and experienced photographers collectively know that the Noctilux is a very prized optical monster. It doesn’t just quiver under low-light condition; it actually lives for it, as Dr. Mandler would agree. This is my unequivocal favorite lens of all time. You might read online and various literature about the Noctilux’s focusing issues with the digital-M, lack of sharpness, extreme vignettes, enormous size, and countless other complaints. What is my response to all of these issues? Yes, I would have to agree with all of them! But I guess this is what taming a beast like the Noct is all about. Yes it requires a little love from the elves to make it perfectly adapted to your digital-M body. Yes, it is not the sharpest lens, but that’s the reason for its magic glow and signature bokeh. Images shot with a Noctilux can only be described as watercolors to me; the background always gives a very distinct paintbrush flavor while the outline of the subject usually glows with a warm soft texture. Yes, vignettes are a part of this lens’ repertoire, some folks hate it, but many like myself love it. As for the size argument, although the Noctilux is one of the largest of the Leica lenses, it is by far much smaller than many other normal focal length lenses in production. I was tempted to swap my classic Noctilux for the newer f/0.95, but after several days of using it at the Leica Akademie last year, I decided that the older model’s characteristics was more preferable for my taste.

These three lenses have many different attributes, yet the unique characteristics that they showcase are unmistakably, Leica. Will I use other cameras and lenses in the future, I am sure I am not immune to the shutterbug nor am I too stubborn or ignorant to say that this brand or that brand is the best for everyone. What I can say is that I love the Leica M system, for its simplicity, signature images, and obedience to what the idea of photography truly is – an art form.

Aug 142012
 

 

Leica Lenses IN STOCK NOW! But probably not for long…

If you have been waiting for Leica glass to be in stock then your wait is over. As of today there is stock at a few dealers of many Leica lenses. 50 Lux? Yep. 35 Cron? yep. 28 Cron? Yep…plus many more including the classic 50 Cron (which I still adore). I think that these lenses are in stock now because the M9 firestorm and Leica fever has cooled down from 120 degrees to about 98 degrees. Once the Monochrom and M10 hit I think these lenses will once again be getting snagged up as shooters get the super hot “Leica Fever” once again.

1. Ken Hansen – Ken is a dealer who has been in business since the 1950’s and his personalized service, trust and old school customer service just make the shopping experience super pleasant. Ken Doesn’t have a web site but many here can tell you how great Ken is. I spoke with him yesterday and he has MANY Leica lenses in stock, new and ready to roll .Just send him an e-mail to [email protected] and he will get to you very quickly. He ships worldwide and I just received a new lens from him today. Thanks Ken! BTW, Ken has a pre-order Monochrom list as well if you want to add your name let him know. I think this camera is going to start shipping the 1st or 2nd week of Sep. BTW, Ken has the 50 Lux ASPH in Silver in stock and I think even the Noctilux.

2. PopFlash  – Tony Rose at pop flash is very well-known and has been a Leica dealer for a long time as well. He also sells Olympus, Ricoh, Zeiss and other cameras which you can find over at popflash.com  I noticed he has some Leica glass and even super lightly used M9P’s in stock at deep discounts. Be sure to check out the website HERE. I remember buying my 1st Leica digital from PopFlash back when the Digilux 2 arrived. I bought TWO from him back then and loved that camera to death.  PopFlash also sells the really great Artisan & Artist products and they have big stock of those products right now as well.

3. Dale Photo – They have loads of Leica glass in as well. I was t old by David Farkas who is the main Leica guru there that they had a bug shipment in and to send anyone I know looking for glass their way. Dale has been a site sponsor for a while now and have always provided great service. I have shopped at Dale for Leica glass in the past and usually check to see what they have in stock. Dale also sells USED Leica cameras and they have a Titanium M9 kit in stock right now. Wow.

4. B&H Photo  – Just checked and B&H has a few Leica lenses in stock. They have the 35 cron in Black, the 28 cron, and a used 35 SUMMILLUX 1.4 ASPH

It seems Leica has pumped up their lens production so now os the time to get what you need!

Jul 082012
 

LOADS of used Leica Lenses and Cameras NOW available!

Just browsed over at B&H Photos used department and saw all of these USED Leica lenses and cameras. Here is what they have available now and there are MANY lenses here!

Noctilux F1 – latest F/1 design – $7895.00

LEICA 90 SUMMICRON ASPH APO, with case – $2799

Leica 35 Summicron PRE-ASPH – $1999

Leica 50 Summicron f/2  – latest pre APO version – $1499

Leica 28 Elmarit ASPH 2.8 – $1949

Leica 24 Elmar 3.8 – “10” in box as new – $2394

Leica 135 f/3.4 Telyt APO – $2449

Leica 28 Summicron ASPH – $3499

LEICA 21 ELMARIT ASPH f/2.8 – $3699

and now some cameras!

Leica M9-P Silver Chrome with hand grip and in the box, 9 condition – $7199

LEICA BLACK PAINT MP – $3199

Leica M8 – $2499 – Black

LEICA M7 – BLACK – $2499

Leica X1 – Black – $1399

NOW THAT IS A LOAD OF USED GEAR! Hopefully some of you can find what you are looking for and get better pricing than new. Leica glass is always a good buy as they never really fall in value. Here are a few more I found at pop flash and Dale Photo!

Popflash also has a 50 Summilux 1.4 pre-asph for $2997

Leica 35 Summicron ASPH – $2797

Dale has a used Zeiss 50 Planar for Leica M – $900

Also a used 75 Summarit which is a GREAT lens!

Also, don’t forget Ken Hansen. He always has new and used Leica in stock. You can e-mail him with whatever you are looking for at [email protected]

Apr 162012
 

TONS of Leica used deals and buys!

It has been a while since I posted used deals and special, mostly because I have been too busy to do so! But tonight I have been browsing B&H Photo, PopFlash.com and Dale Photo and found some used Leica deals some of you might enjoy :) Looks like many may be trading in their M9’s in anticipation of May 10th! At the time of this posting, ALL of these were IN STOCK from B&H, PopFlash or Dale Photo.

 

RARE FIND! LEICA 90 SUMMICRON F/2 ASPH!$3499 – Click HERE to see it as it is IN STOCK now!

Leica M9 – Black  – 9+ – IN BOX – $5899

Leica M9 – Black – 9 – In Box – $5799

Leica M9 – Black – 8+ – In Box – $5649

GREAT BUY! LEICA M7 – Black – 9+ – In box! $2749

Leica M8 Chrome  – 8+ – In Box – $2599

Leica 35 Summarit 2.5 – “10” – In Box as new – $1699

LEICA X1 – Grey – $1499

LEICA M6 TTL – .58 BODY – CHROME – 8+ and in the box! $1699

Leica M6 classic – chrome – $1699

Leica M7 SILVER CHROME – $2377

Leica Silver Chrome M9-P with less than 140 Actuations – $7297

Leica 21 Elmarit 2.8 – Used Deal

Black Leica M9-P with less than 120 Actuations – $7297

Black Paint Leica MP, almost new!

Used Leica Noctilux F1, latest and last version of the F1 – $7300

Summilux 35 ASPH (not FLE) – $4250

Leica 35 Summicron Black – $2900

Mar 282012
 

The Great 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout! UPDATED!

by Brad Husick March 27, 2012

Many of us have GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and have amassed a generous collection of lenses for our rangefinder cameras. The problem with having a wide selection of lenses to choose from is that when we reach up to grab a lens for our next shoot it’s sometimes hard to decide what to take. At one point my collection was up to 22 lenses and at that point I had become a collector as much as a photographer. Well, over the past few years I have whittled that collection down to the lenses I like most just for their optical qualities. My collecting interest has been refocused on photographs – the ones I take.

Fortunately for this test I still own too many lenses and I have a close friend who owns many more, so I thought I’d begin a series of tests with 35mm rangefinder lenses. These are not laboratory controlled tests of carefully arranged objects but a typical outdoor scene from a local spot here on Lake Washington near Seattle – a subject more people are likely to shoot from day-to-day. The results are my subjective opinion of the optical quality of the photos, and I am including 100% crops for you to make your own conclusions. Here’s the full frame 35mm shot:

Test Setup:

The test was set up to control and keep constant as many of the variables as possible. Photos were taken on a Leica M9-P mounted on a tripod, set at ISO 160, shutter speed 1/750 sec., aperture f/4, lenses set to their infinity focus point. Not all the lenses had the same maximum aperture and the day was bright enough that trying to shoot wide-open would have required the use of ND filters. I did not want to introduce any glass in front of the lenses for this test. The shutter was tripped using the 2-second self timer to minimize any hand vibrations. RAW files were brought into Adobe Lightroom 4 and exported as JPEG files with no adjustments from default settings.

The weather here in Seattle was in the 50’s with complete overcast and light winds. We get this ideal overcast many days a year – great for photographs, not too great for sun tanning.

The Eight Contestants in the Shootout:

MS Super Triplet Perar f3.5 Mark II (Perar)

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Leica Summarit-M f3.5, current version (Summarit)

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Zeiss Biogon f2.0 T* ZM Silver (Zeiss)

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Leica Summilux f1.4 ASPH FLE (FLE)

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Leica Summicron-M f2.0 ASPH Chrome (Chrome ASPH)

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Leica Summicron-M f2.0 ASPH Black (Black ASPH)

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Voigtlander C Color Skopar Classic f2.5 (Skopar)

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Leitz Summaron f2.8 LTM/M circa 1959 (Summaron)

Lens Results:

I examined 100% crops near the center of the frame and at the top left corner. I studied the files looking for overall sharpness and ability to resolve detail, micro-contrast, lack of chromatic aberration (fringing) and distortion.

Not surprisingly, the Leica Summilux ASPH FLE was the top performer at both the center and corner of the frame. Leica took an already excellent lens, the Summilux ASPH, and corrected the focus shift issue by incorporating a new floating element in the FLE. The price of the new lens climbed substantially, with some selling for nearly $8000 a few months after introduction when the initial supply ran dry. Prices have since settled around $6500.

Somewhat surprising is how well the Zeiss Biogon performed, especially at the center, scoring a second place for center performance. Sharpness and detail were excellent. Overall contrast was higher than the FLE perhaps due to different lens coatings. Ergonomics are superb with buttery smooth focus and f-stop. Some may not like the chrome ring around the front of the lens that functions as a bayonet for the optional hood, but I don’t think it detracts from the lens. The Zeiss is the performance-value winner here with new lenses available for around $1000.

I compared two seemingly identical Leica Summicron-ASPH lenses, one black and the other chrome. They were not optically identical. The chrome lens was marginally superior at both the center and corner. This could be due to some slight variation in infinity focus between the two lenses. The pair of Summicron-ASPH lenses scored well, coming in second and third at the corner and third and forth at the center. The Summicron has always been a staple of the Leica shooter and will probably remain there. Used prices range from $2500-$3000.

Leica’s modern Summarit-M is positioned as an entry level lens for the Leica shooter, and is a small and affordable package. Optically however, the Summarit came in fifth in the ranking for overall softness and a lack of micro contrast; a somewhat disappointing result for a modern lens design. The Summarit is list priced at $1895 with clean used lenses selling for $1400.

The Leitz Summaron from 1959 is a beautiful lens with sculpted sloping edges and an unusual focus tab that incorporates an infinity lock. Sharpness of the Summaron was soft, but lacked any chromatic aberration – a surprising result for such an old design and the state of lens coatings from that time period. The softness of the lens was pleasing, giving a somewhat nostalgic look to the photograph. Shooters looking for some of that classic old Leica glow won’t be disappointed with the Summaron. However, compared with modern optics the Summaron just can’t resolve the way the newer glass can perform. Clean used Summarons can be found for around $1000.

Last but not least in the shootout was a personal favorite – the unique MS Super Triplet Perar, often called simply the “Perar”. It’s been a favorite of mine because it is simply tiny. It’s smaller than any Leica collapsible lens in the collapsed state! The aperture is step-free and the focus is smooth with a focus “pin” to assist. Traveling with this lens is a joy since it barely sticks out from the front of the camera and it’s always in a ready-to- shoot position, unlike collapsible lenses. As good as the physical design and ergonomics are, the optical performance of the lens is not up to the standards set by the more complicated and expensive lenses in this test. Perar images are good at center but sharpness falls off at the edges. Perar lenses can be found on ebay and at the maker’s website www.japanexposures.com.

Vignetting is not a problem for any of these lenses and chromatic aberration is well handled by the entire group.

Here are my subjective rankings of the lenses:

Note: I’d like to thank my dear friend Ed (goes by the handle “fishandfowl” on many boards) for making available five of the lenses in this test. Ed introduced me to rangefinder photography and thus improved my life greatly.

Brad

UPDATE!!

ARTICLE UPDATE (3-29-12):
In my initial test the Skopar performed quite poorly when set to the infinity focus setting on the lens. I re-ran the test, this time backing the focus off from infinity by the smallest amount I could turn the ring in the case where the infinity stop was overshooting slightly. Center sharpness improved substantially while edge distortion remained problematic. This is probably due in part to the Leica Thread Mount (LTM) – to – Leica M bayonet adapter being used.

Here are the new Skopar crops:

Based on these new results I have revised my rankings:

Some visitors posted comments about the overall quality of the images in comparison to other camera systems. To assist in evaluating these images, I have included two more cameras – the Leica D-Lux 5, a highly respected small-imager camera set to 35mm zoom, f/4 and base ISO, and the Apple iPhone 4S, an 8 megapixel imager with an approximate angle of view of 30mm. I think most readers will agree that neither measures up to the images produced with the Leica M9-P. The iPhone was surprisingly good for a phone and has the unique quality of always being at hand when a photo is required.

iPhone 4s

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D-Lux 5

Sep 212011
 

ITS THE LENSES! – Don’t upgrade your camera just yet! By Steve Huff

 

It seems that every month or so there is some new and advanced camera being released and in some cases new models get replaced within a few months. Cameras like the Panasonic GF2 had a short 4 month life. I guess Panasonic knew it was a stinker when no one was buying it. They now have the tiny GF3 which I tried out for a day or two. Didn’t like it as much as the Oly E-P3. I still prefer the original GF1 which IMO had a better body style and layout. S0 much for advancing a camera model line. Sometimes these cameras can get TOO small which makes them uncomfortable to hold.

One thing I have indeed noticed is that every now and then a new camera that is replacing a well liked model can actually be a downgrade. This is why I did not review the Panasonic GF2. It was smaller, harder to handle, the control knobs were taken away and the camera used the same sensor. It became toy like. I DID shoot with it but did not care for it at all. I guess you can say I now reviewed it, and hey, it was a negative review, lol. Same for the GF3, though the 3 did take good quality photos, and I liked it better than the “2” the body is just too toy like for serious enthusiasts. Well, for this one at least.

The original GF1 was a breakthrough camera in the mirrorless market. Why Panny didn’t expand on that and create a GF2 with the same controls, better sensor, better video, and EVF is beyond me. It would have sold like mad!

The bottom line here is that if you are settled on a system…wether that system is Leica, Micro 4/3, Nikon, Canon or even Sigma or Sony, the one thing you should be spending your upgrade money on is LENSES. This is no secret as i bet 79.2% of  you know this already :) Sure we ALL want the latest and greatest but sometimes it is better to wait and skip a new model or two and spend that extra money we have that is burning a hole in our pocket on glass. Good glass is always a good buy. The lenses are the heart of ANY camera system, not the body!

A new camera will NOT make you a better photographer but some lenses can help you achieve the look you want in your photos which gives you more creative freedom.

For example, I know someone who still owns an Olympus E-P1, the first digital PEN that came out a couple of years ago. This person has bought and collected most of the great lenses like the Panasonic 20 1.7 and the new Olympus 12mm f/2. When comparing images taken with their E-P1 and the new E-P3, the image quality is about the same. Sure the new E-P3 has much faster AF and newer whiz bang features but for good old fashioned picture taking the little E-P1 is still capable of great results.

Because this person spent his money on cool new lenses for the little PEN instead of spending it on the E-P2 and E-P3 he had a much more versatile system. A fisheye, a fast lens, a great macro, a nice 75-300 and the new 12mm. Someone with limited funds like myself would spend the money on new bodies and miss out on many of the lenses. Looking at his fisheye shots made me want the fisheye, but nope! I was out of cash because I send it all on new bodies (well, I do so so I can review them too). Hmmmmm.

The same goes for the Leica M8. The M8 is still a fantastic photographic tool even though the M9 is the newer model. The M9 is full frame, and does a bit better at high ISO but the M8 has a certain look to the files that can not even be replicated with the M9! I actually feel like the M8 has a more film like image. It is “harder” where the M9 is more “smooth”. Throw something like a Zeiss 50 Sonnar on the M8 and you will get that magical classic look.

To many, the smart thing to do would be to keep an M8 and instead of spending the cash on an M9, spend it on a good Leica lens or two. This way, when you do upgrade your camera to something that is much better you will have the glass to get the most out of it.

I have been asked many times if a Leica M8 and 50 Summilux would be better than a Leica M9 and Voigtlander 50mm. A used M8 can be had for $2400 and a 50 Lux retails for $3700 or so. $6100. An M9 is $7000 so that is already more than the M8 with the best Leica lens in production today. So what is the better choice? I’d say the M8 and 50 Summilux as BEAUTIFUL results can be had with this combo. The M9 and Voigtlander will give you good results as well but buying good Leica glass is an INVESTMENT and buying bodies is NOT.

For those with an original E-P1 body, my suggestion would be to keep that body until a totally kick ass PEN comes out with a built in EVF instead of selling your E-P1 for $200 and spending $800 on the E-P3. Take that money and buy something like the 12mm f/2 or Panasonic 25 1.4. You will still get the benefit of the great glass with your current camera. If you absolutely want the faster AF or higher res video then go for it but I feel like there is nothing that can be done on an E-P3 that can’t be done on an E-P1 image quality wise.

Same goes for owners of the GF-1. It is still a GREAT little camera, one of the best Micro 4/3 STILL today! For years now the madness of new camera gear has kept us all wanting the best. The latest. The greatest. I am as guilty as anyone but I have always known that today’s camera bodies are all pretty damn good. The glass, that is where it’s at.

BUT just because I say buy glass and skip body upgrades does not mean you should not splurge on the body you want. Hell, if you have the cash go for it and buy the lenses while you are at it! On the flip side there are many of us who just have to own the latest because it is fun, it is cool and it is like a drug, lol. Cameras like the upcoming Sony NEX-7 have gotten me to plunk down my money but why is that? My real reason is the new Zeiss 24 1. lens that is being released right after the NEX-7. That lens will be welded to the body as it will give me a 35mm equivalent with a fast aperture. SO sometimes, a new body is in order but most of the time a new lens can transform your old body into something pretty exciting.

Another reason for buying a new body may be that you want to shoot film (which I admit, I have been getting the itch to JUST shoot film for 6 months) and if that is the case, Ken Hansen ([email protected]) has some film bodies available – MPs, M7, M6, M3… but make sure you have a good lens 1st as this is the HEART of any camera system, film or digital. By good lens I mean a lens that YOU enjoy and like the rendering of. That could be a $200 50 f/2 or a snazzy new Summilux.

How many of you reading this have been wanting a new lens for your body? Let us know what you shoot with and what lenses you like in the comments box below!

Steve

 

May 122010
 

I am in the process of moving some old articles from my older site over to this site so for the next few weeks you will be seeing some “re-posting” of these articles. This one was originally posted on April 5th 2009 at the old site. The question was “Do Leica Cameras and Lenses Have A Soul?”

Re-Post of an Article from April 5th 2009

For years I have heard that a Leica camera has something special about it. The “Leica Glow” as some put it, is something you see in images taken with Leica cameras. Do Leica cameras have a soul? Well, no, of course not.

The camera bodies themselves are pretty much the same as any other film or digital body in regards to image taking. With an M6 or M7 you load the film, focus, meter and take the shot. With an M8 it is the sensor that makes the image and Leica does not make the sensor on the M8, so they can not be responsible for any of this “glow” or “magic”..or can they?

The first Leica camera was introduced to the public in 1925. For a cool history of Leica camera, check out Thorsten Overgaards site. Lots of fun facts there about Leica and he is an avid Leica guy himself. I recommend his Leica Digilux 2 review! (You can also see my Digilux 2 write up here.)

Magic. It is my belief that the magic with Leica lies in their lenses. Their experience with making fine lenses goes back a long way and many people today are still using 50+ year old lenses on their cameras. I had an old 1942 135 Hektor I paid $90 for and used it on my M8 with GREAT results (most of the time) but really, not much magic in it. Nothing a good Nikon or Canon lens couldn’t do.\

M8 AND 135 HEKTOR 4.5 – CLICK FOR LARGER SIZE IMAGE

So yes, you can find a cheap, inexpensive Leica lens if you look around ebay. I found this Hektor at a camera shop in Phx, AZ. But in all honesty it was only good for outdoor, in good light though when it worked, it did well.

So on to my search for photos with “soul” or the “Leica Glow”…

I have used so many cameras but now, I am pretty much hooked on the rangefinder way of shooting. My M8 provides me with the light weight, and easy manual operation (with a few hiccups at times). I love it. When I compare the shots from my M8 with almost any DSLR I do indeedy (yes, I know that is not a word) see a difference in the quality of the files.

There really may be something to this, but again, it is in the lenses IMO. Leica makes THE BEST lenses in the world, and they are priced accordingly. Many complain about the high prices but they are low production, made with the highest quality glass, and many of them do have that “magic” and not all of them are mega bucks.

Lets start with the new “starter” Leica Summarit line. I recently picked up a Leica “budget” lens, the 75 Summarit 2.5. It’s funny because it is almost Leicas least expensive lens at $1500 (I paid $1100 for a demo model) but its focusing is much smoother than my big bucks Leica 50 Summilux ASPH, which is pretty stiff. I was surprised to see the same great build quality and the image quality is really really good.

LEICA M8 and 75 SUMMARIT at F2.5

That 75 is also the sharpest lens I have ever used. Ever. When shot at the minimum focus distance, look out. Its RAZOR sharp. My particular copy has a defect as it is off when shooting at infinity or anything past 10 feet. I will be returning it this week, but man, I am telling you…if you are into sharpness then the 75 Summarit is crazy sharp and has the character of the Lux line but slower at 2.5. I’ll have a full review of that lens soon. I do see some magic in the few shots that came out in focus when I used it at the Seal show last week, and when side by side with my Nikon D90 shots from the show, the Leica ones do stand out IMO.

One other lens I love is the Leica Noctilux. At F1 (new version is 0.95) it renders in a way that is different from any other current DSLR lens. It’s painterly, creamy backgrounds render in a magical way and when people see a Noct shot, they usually are impressed.

CURIOUS GIRL – LEICA MP AND NOCTILUX AT F1

One lens that has gained a huge following is the Leica 50 Summilux ASPH lens. This one is stellar. Sharp, even when shooting wide open but with a smooth, creamy background. It’s expensive, with todays prices running about $3500, and there are many alternatives to it from Zeiss, Voigtlander, etc. But, do they have the “glow”?

LEICA M8 AND 50 SUMMILUX AT 1.4

One thing I have noticed after using so many cameras is that for some reason or another, my leica files seem to breathe. They seem to have captured the moment with more reality, and tend to be a bit more powerful. I really can not put my finger on it but its true.

People tell me the camera has nothing to do with the shots you take. Well, that is true and false. The camera, if it has lousy image quality can make your images look lousy. Just like an artist, you start with a nice, clean, and big canvas (the sensor) and you paint with your brushes (lenses) – If your paper is crap, and your brushes are the el cheap-o’s then your painting, while still being good, may miss that little something extra.

So, as I have already stated, I believe the magic with Leica is in the lenses. They are not incredibly better than the Nikon or Canon pro lenses but they are better, and for that little bit extra they give you, only you can decide if it is worth it. For me they are.

Me? I LOVE Leica lenses for their world class quality, color rendering, and Bokeh. Even their less expensive offerings can be great, and some, like the $10k Noctilux 0.95 are simply incredible. I will never be able to shoot one, but those who do will have one hell of an artistic tool.

LEICA M7 AND 50 SUMMICRON AT F2

Speaking of capturing the moment or the “emotion” in the shot, I have provided samples here that do just that. From Seal’s expression that shows his true feeling while playing that guitar, the little girl looking at me with curiosity as she holds on to her Mother, to my wife’s warm smile while doing her homework just before the Seal show. Finally, my nephew holding his new cousin, baby Faith with the little girl in the background wondering what it is I am holding in my hand.

Leica’s just seem to capture that moment more than any camera I have ever used. No zoom lenses, no fancy autofocus, just the one on one user experience with the camera that becomes a part of you. I became an even bigger believer in this whole “magic”, “soul”, “glow” thing after I shot that concert last week.

I did see something in those shots, and even though I already was a fan of Leica, I am now even more so. So, do Leicas have a soul? No, but they do bring out the best in you. Using a Leica will inspire and really let you enjoy shooting. To me, this is what it is all about!

MARY – HOMELESS, PHOENIX, AZ – LEICA NOCTILUX, MP

Of course, these are just MY opinions. Any camera today is capable of taking phenomenal shots, much better than my skill level at least. Use what you own and make it yours. Learn it, feel it, and live it. You will then be rewarded for your efforts with great images you can always look back on with a smile.

© 2009-2014 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved
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