Apr 152014
 

ishotitwinners

The winner of the $16,290 and Leica Monochrom from I-SHOT-IT!

So did any of you here enter the last B&W Photo Competition from I-SHOT-IT? Click HERE to see the newly announced winners, including the winner of the Monochrom and the $16,000 cash. They already started the next B&W competition so if you think you have what it takes, and are in the mood for some healthy competition then CLICK HERE To check it out.

Congratulations to the winner!

Steve

Mar 212014
 

‘A Night at the Opera’ with the Leica Monochrom & M2

By John Tuckey

Hi all, here’s another few film shots for you from my last shoot. We have Ilford HP5+ shot on an awesome old Leica M2 body with the Lux 50 ASPH attached and a couple of Contax 645 Medium format shots on PanF. I developed this lot myself so I think the PanF fans will be a little happier with how the PanF looks here ;-)

As usual the ‘real’ shoot for me was digitally shot on the M-Monochrom while the film was shot for fun and side projects. This time I’ve also included a few of the M-Monochrom shots that were taken as I think there’s an interesting contrast between the ISO 400 film and the digital shots also at ISO 400. To me, it’s not a question of better or worse, but as you’d expect they are very different.

For those interested, more from this shoot at: http://500px.com/jrtbloke/sets/carla_march_set

Attachment Captions and suggested running order:

M2 & Summilux 50mm ASPH @ f/1.4, 1/60, ISO 400 (Ilford HP5+)

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M-Monochrom & Noctilux @ f/1, 1/125, ISO 400

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M2 & Summilux 50mm ASPH @ f/1.4, 1/60, ISO 400 (Ilford HP5+)

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 M-Monochrom & Noctilux @ f/1, 1/125, ISO 400

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M2 & Summilux 50mm ASPH @ f/1.4, 1/60, ISO 400 (Ilford HP5+)

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M-Monochrom & Noctilux @ f/1, 1/125, ISO 400

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M2 & Summilux 50mm ASPH @ f/1.4, 1/60, ISO 400 (Ilford HP5+)

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M-Monochrom & Noctilux @ f/1, 1/125, ISO 400

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Contax 645 and 80mm f2, f/2, 1/3000, ISO 50 (ilford PanF+)

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M-Monochrom & Noctilux @ f/1, 1/4000, ISO 400 (and ND grad)

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All images post processed in Lightroom, but all in line with my 10 minute promise… which is for the health of my eyes! I just promise myself to never spend more than 10 minutes on an image in post. My reasoning is that if its crap after 10 it’ll always be crap (crap in, crap out) so then I just chalk it up to go and take another.

All the best

John Tuckey

http://www.jrtvintage.co.uk

http://500px.jrtvintage.co.uk

http://www.facebook.com/jrtvintage/

Mar 192014
 

The I-SHOT-IT Competition heats up again!

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Over the past year or so I have been telling everyone here about these great photo competitions over at I-SHOT-IT.com . The last few premium contests have all produced winners who found out about it from this very website, which is amazingly cool. Prizes have been $25,000 cash and a Leica Monochrom as well as other huge cash prizes and Leica cameras. I-SHOT-IT.com offers competitions across a wide range of subjects and prize levels.

Imagine entering a B&W photo to the premium competition and winning a Leica Monochrom WITH a load of cash. I have gotten thank you letters from previous winners who found out about the competitions from me, so I want to make sure I pass along the next one which is ending in about 2 weeks in hopes that another winner from HERE can take home the cash and prize.

The Premium B&W competition has a prize including the Leica Monochrom camera and the cash amount. As of this writing it is just over $5600 but it always climbs during the last few days of the competition. The entry fee for the PREMIUM contest is $20 so I would make sure you have a superb photo before entering this one. If you win, the prize is quite special though. It only takes one to win.

They also offer free competitions with lesser prizes. 

So be sure to check out all of the ways you can enter over at I-SHOT-IT.com. I feel they are providing a great service to those who want to get out and shoot as THIS WILL motivate you to get out and get the best shots of your life. For me, that is what it is all about. If I could enter I would pay my $20 and go out to find the best B&W shot I could possibly take and then submit it. I can not enter as I-SHOT-IT.com is a site sponsor but I know many of you here do enter, so I can live vicariously through some of you, lol.

Whoever wins this next one, if you come from here again let me know as it would be amazing to help deliver another winner from this community!

Go to the I-SHOT-IT home page HERE.

Check out their Facebook HERE. 

Check out and enter the B&W Premium Competition HERE

The FREE competition is HERE.

Mar 052014
 

colintempletont

In praise of the Leica Monochrom

by Colin Templeton

Hi Steve,

I’ve been a regular visitor to your site over the years, and thought it was time I contributed something, rather than continue to sit on the sidelines.

I work for a national newspaper in Scotland. I love my job – I’m based in Glasgow, as is my newspaper, so much of my work is in and around the city, although I also get to see a fair bit of Scotland.

But the city is what fascinates me. And when I’m not working I get out and about with my Leica M Monochrom. I love to document everyday life on the streets. I’ve owned, and used, a Leica M6 since the mid-nineties, and always liked the images it produced. They seemed to have more life to them, dare I say it, more soul than the pictures I got from the Nikon F5 I used for work, and the rangefinder camera was simply much more fun to use.

When I started at the newspaper full-time, around five years ago, they supplied the camera gear needed for the job, so I was left with all the Nikon kit I had used as a freelance. I sold it all (thank you, eBay) and bought a Leica M9. That camera was a revelation – essentially the same as the M6, but with the advantages of being digital. And when it was announced that Leica were launching a black and white only M, I didn’t hesitate – I traded in the M9, and found myself with an M Monochrom. I’d been converting the majority of my shots into black and white anyway.

Eighteen months later, I’m still smitten by this camera. Picking it up make me want to go out and shoot with it. And I do, pretty much every day (I post a daily photograph on Blipfoto: http://www.blipfoto.com/contraflow). A lot of praise has been heaped on the M Monochrom, and I find myself much in agreement. The camera is very small, light, unobtrusive, a joy to shoot with, and the files it produces are like nothing I’ve seen before. You can step on them hard and they just don’t break up. Not that you need to be hard on them, because if exposed correctly, they need hardly any work. Everything is in the file – it just needs to be breathed on a little to coax the best from it.

One of the best things about the M Monochrom is that you get to use Leica lenses on it. I’m an ex-Nikon user, and now a full-time Canon user, so I know all about the image quality of those two systems. But the tiny Leica lenses have detail and character in spades, by comparison. It almost seems ludicrous how heavy and large a pro Canon DSLR is, when the diminutive Leica has the same size sensor, and much smaller, faster, sharper lenses. Any DSLR I’ve ever used feels like the computer it is. I can’t bond with it. And when I see the results, they fulfil the brief, but it almost feels as though the camera made the picture, not me. That’s a good thing, because it makes the job easier. But there’s no fun involved. Using a Leica rangefinder is fun. You have to really slow down and think. Just take a single shot and make it count. When I get a picture from a Leica M that I’m happy with, I really feel as though I made the image, not the camera.

My two favourite lenses for the M Monochrom are the 50mm M Summilux ASPH, and the 28mm Summicron ASPH. Occasionally I’ll use an old 1960′s 90mm Tele Elmarit “fat” version 1, but generally it’s just the two lenses for me. And mostly it’s the 50mm. A lot has been made about the modern aspherical lenses being too sharp, too clinical in their rendering for the M Monochrom sensor, but I just don’t see it. I think the modern 50mm and 28mm render beautifully, and with plenty of character. But maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, I could go on and on. I adore the M Monochrom. It doesn’t get in my way, it just allows me to take great pictures. It’s like my M6, loaded with an endless supply of all my favourite black and white films.

My website is: http://colintempleton.com/

I’m also a member of the Elephant Gun photography collective: http://www.750grain.com/colintempleton/

And I’m on Twitter: https://twitter.com/colintempleton

Very best wishes, and thank you,

Colin

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Mar 042014
 

LEICA M MONOCHROMATIC IMAGES

By Michael Nemlich

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

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

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

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

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

I hope this short essay helps.

All the Best. Nemlich

nemlich.leicaimages.com and www.beshumma.com

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Feb 182014
 

ashmmt

A Year in “M” Monochrom

By Ashwin Rao

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Hello, my friends, the time has come to reflect upon a year seen primarily in black and white (and many, many shades of gray, which really is life, now, isn’t it ?) through the eye of Leica’s amazing Leica M Monochrom. I have previously written about my experiences with the “MM” after 6 months of use, and following journeys with the camera in Paris, Italy, New York City, and the Palouse. In this world of constant camera turnover, where every M9 is replaced by an M240, with Sony and Olympus seemingly staking their claims to fame in the digital camera world in place of Canon and Nikon, and with Fuji surprising and delighting us with every turn, the MM is now a venerable camera that remains unique as the only current mass-produced camera with a black and white sensor. The camera’s sensor, stripped of any ability to see in color, rid of the capacity to block moire, ends up being a photon eater, proving and incredible tool for capturing light in its many presentations.

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While it has not yet been around long enough to be deemed “legendary”, the MM is already ascending that ladder, and for those whom have had the privilege of using it, you’ll see that glimmer in their eyes of the prize that rests in their hands. So come along with me for my ride, should you choose, in words and images, of this camera that is destined for legend.

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Over the past year plus, I have taken over 15,000 shots with the Leica MM. I can truly and honestly say that the camera has delivered me the most joy of any camera that I have owned. The camera’s incredible CCD sensor that seems capable of coaxing the very best out of nearly any lens that you could put on it. In particular, the sensor seems to play particularly well with older rangefinder lenses, which in some cases were designed and coated for black and white photography. It provides a rich modern look with today’s aspherical glass, almost providing “shockingly real” views of the world, which I have yet to see from any camera. For me, the look of the MM with most modern glass is almost surreal, and I have thus primarily stuck with using older, “cheap” rangefinder lenses with the camera to great satisfaction. What’s interesting to me, and what I have heard increasingly from users of the camera, is that the camera’s sensor itself seems capable of coaxing something special out of these lenses, even when the M9 and M240 may not be able to coax the same look, clarity, or detail.

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Seeing in Monochrome

First and foremost, the Leica MM is a tool for image capture, as is really any other camera that the photographer may use. However, the sensor’s capacities and limitations have forced me to change my creative perspective. As I began my journey with the MM, I had to accept the challenge of only “seeing” the world around me in black and white. Color was no longer an option, and could not be used as a crutch or a tool ton lean upon. Having converted many of my M9 images to black and white, I initially did not see an issue with the process of only seeing in black and white, but after using the M monochrome a few times, I suddenly realized at what I had given up. Shooting in color offers its own creative possibilities and limitations, and when I suddenly forced out of this option, I found myself jarred. I decided to re-calibrate and try my best to see the world around me in black and white, before I even composed or took the shot. In a sense, I began to focus on light and dark, highlight and shadow, essentially in luminosity. I began to “ignore color” to the best of my abilities and focus instead on the remaining elements of any scene that I wished to capture Over a few months, what first was a challenge soon became inspiration and motivation. I was starting to see the world in monochrome. Just as switching from the AF-10FPS SLR’s to rangefinders is freeing to many photographers who are stuck in a rut, shooting with the M Monochrom re-invigorated me to explore the world around me in new ways. I called it “Going back to finishing school.”

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Monochrom magic?

There is just something about the MM’s sensor that seems magical to me. I know that this may come off as overly dramatic, but for me and for others out there with whom I have discussed the camera, it is true. The images that I have been able to capture seem to defy my own meager skills as a photographer. Lenses that were forgotten or passed aside on the M8 and M9 suddenly took center stage in the manner of how they interacted with the MM’s sensor. Let me say a few more words about this (The following is entirely theoretical, so feel free to disregard)

I have said in many instances that the MM seems to play particularly well with older lenses. Many vintage lenses from Leitz, Canon, and Nippon Kogaku were designed and used in an area of black and white photography, where color options were rare, limited, or non-existent. Thus, such lenses utilized coatings and design that was suited to capturing monochrome images, or so I have gathered. Whereas some of these older lenses’ coatings provide poor color reproduction on digital cameras, they seem to offer subtleties in tonal capture that modern lenses of aspherical design, aimed at gathering maximal contrast and detail across the frame, seem to miss. I have noted than many modern aspherical designs seem to limit the M Monochrom’s abilities to capture shadow detail, in particular, while older lenses, which tend to capture much lower macrocontrast, save these shadows, and instances, highlights as well.

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Second, I suspect that some of the MM’s magic in interacting with old lenses actually may have come from within. When I consider photographers that have inspired me, I have tended to prefer the “look” of the works of the early Magnum photographers, Sebastio Salgado, and others who shot in an era where my “vintage” lenses was their modern options. In a sense, I learned to prefer a way of seeing in black and white in the manner that was reflective of their gear…i.e. older lenses.

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Third, the MM’s sensor seems to be unique in being able to hold incredible detail with post-processing. This seems to be due to the dynamic range that MM images seem to possess in the mid tones. The MM has been roundly criticized for its tendency to clip highlights, and this is absolutely a reasonable criticism. What is often not discussed, however, is the incredible detail and flexibility of tone that preserved in the midtones captured by the camera, as well as the shadow detail that the camera preserves. When I first used the MM, I was enamored by the near infinite shades of gray captured within the RAW file, and as a result, my initial images with the camera tended to look generally grey. Over time, I found myself exploring these greys more and more, and using Adobe LR and other post processing tools to extract the contrast and detail that I desired from this more “boring” grey. One can push and pull the images in any number of ways, and MM files will not fall part, especially those captured at ISO 3200 or less. When used in “decent light”, the camera does just fine at ISO’s as high as 5000, capturing fine detail and suppressing noise appropriately (not really like film, though, but still pleasing).

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Finally, there may also be something to the M Monochrom’s naked sensor that coaxes the most out of vintage lenses. Lenses such as the Canon 50 mm f/1.8 LTM, which seem soft and washed out on color rangefinders, simply sparkle on the MM, both in detail and tonal rendition. I was surprised in particular, by the amount of detail and resolution that some lenses, over 50 years old, are capable of capturing when paired to the MM. I theorize that the lack of the low pass filter and Bayer array allows for optimal capture of unfiltered detail. No blur or image loss is imparted upon the captured image, as light does not have to pass through any barriers.

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The journey from new to old

So here I am, a year later, a year older and hopefully a year wiser, and my journey with the MM continues. The MM continues to be my favorite camera and my preferred way to see the world around me. My aspherical lenses continue to be relegated to my M9, while the MM continues to be mated to classic rangefinder lenses. I feel that for me, what was a casual experiment with vintage lenses has turned into a serious enterprise in how I prefer to see the world around me. It mates the rangefinder experience with a unique way of seeing the world around me and brings me closer to my own idols in the photographic world.

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Onward and Upward

The journey continues, and I hope to report back to you as I gain even more experience with this wonderful camera. Obviously, I can no longer wow you with reports of impressive specs, more megapixels, and quieter shutters. I hope to bring you more images, as my explorations with the camera, its files, and my use of processing, continues. These are exciting times for many of us, as photographers. Gear these days is so excellent that it’s really up to you to choose what tool suits you best. For some of you, it may be the camera phone that is always on your person. For others, it’s the latest greatest offering, with ever improving dynamic range, color reproduction, detail capture, and camera performance. For some, it’ll be the increasing capacity of cameras to deliver images and an experience that can be instantaneously shared. For me, it’s the simplicity of a camera that’s not capable of any of this, not even capable of seeing in color, that will continue to inspire and challenge me to grow my photography in new directions and to new summits. All the best to you all in your own journeys, and I’ll be sure to check in again soon!

Yours truly,

Ashwin Rao

February, 2014

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Feb 072014
 

Hamburg with the Monochrom

By Dan Bar

Hi Steve

Just got back from Hamburg Germany, nice city with terrible winter weather.

It was cold and damp which made photography quite a challenge. My fingers froze under the gloves as the MM body is made out of steel. and it felt ice-cold. As a matter of fact i was afraid Leica won’t work but nothing of the kind happened. As a matter of fact i spoke with a Leica salesman later on and he told me he has a client who shoots regularly in Greenland where temperature is -20c and colder ( In Hamburg it was -7c and windy ,so it felt like -10c) yet his MM never stopped working. Good news for those who intend to travel to cold countries. Sometimes i do miss colour so i decided to buy the M9 again. I like the 240 alot but i love the M9 ( but that’s me :) . I got it from Ken Hansen who is a fantastic dealer and a great trusty person. Anyway in Hamburg i still did not have the M9 with me , so i am sending you some more black &white + 35 LUX photos. The MM is such a fantastic camera. BTW the german salesman in Hamburg leica store who listened to my complaint about the red plasticity tendency of the 240, said LEICA received a lot of complaints about it and that they fixsd it 3 weeks ago

All the best

Danny

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Jan 292014
 

Photography is Happiness

By Van Styles

Hi there Steve,

Must say here long time fan of your blog. I stumbled upon it about 3 or so years ago and has proven to be a fun and helpful site. I love your real world reviews of cameras as well as suggested tips from camera straps to software. I also like their interactivity you offer by letting people submit for user reports which got me thinking about possible doing so.

I am 33 years old and have been doing photography for about 10 years. It wasn’t until about 4-5 years ago when it really hit me as to what photography meant to me…. which is happiness. By following my passion and my love I have landed myself in a blessed position. Back in June of this year I started my own t-shirt line based on my photography named V/SUAL. It is carried nation wide and is in such stores as Pac Sun as well as being distributed up in Canada and the U.k. So far it is has been received well which has enabled me to enjoy photography that much more by purchasing some amazing tools. For years the Canon 5D has been my go to camera especially with the price point. But this year I picked up a Canon 1DX as well as delving into the beautiful world of Leica.

I know you have been a big fan of the brand and I would always look forward to your reviews whether it was of a lens or of a camera. I started off buying a M6 but was having so much fun with it I bought myself a M 240…. then a Monochrome. Lenses…. needless to say it was like a whole new world. So I got the 28mm 2.0, the 35mm 1.4 the 50mm 1.4 the 75mm 1.4 as well as the mother of them all the Noctiux 0.95. I also was able to get the RX1R as well as the Sony A7R.

I also do a bit of traveling for my photography as well and thought I would share some photos with you. The images below were all shot with my Monochrome and Notctilux. Long story short thank you for your site and your positive outlook on life. Have a good one.

-VS

From Steve – Thanks so much Van!!! Glad to see you are enjoying the cameras and WONDERFUL shots!

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Jan 182014
 

Monochromatic with the Fuji X100

By Renan Luna

Like many others, I’m a hobbyist photographer and I visit your site daily. I have been shooting for at least 10 years, mostly part-time with my old – and now semi-retired – Canon Rebel XS. I love this camera, but its weight and size hardly go unnoticed by the subjects.

In São Paulo, where I live, the people are not so open-minded to be photographed. In fact, they hate it! So, I needed to upgrade my equipment or lose one shoot after another. I decided…the Fuji x100 looks nice to me!

The camera is amazing (the Steve wrote a great review of that). The grip, lenses, size and everything fit with my needs perfectly! I’m back to action days, sneaking in the shadows and hunting for the photos without being discovered.

I’m a color-blind person and monochromatic photos is true passion to me. And again, the Fuji x100 supports me very well in this case with some interesting options of film simulations, especially the black and white ones, that do not need a lot of processing to get images with the results that I want.

After I bought the x100, my style changed a little bit. The fixed lens of 23mm has no zoom of course, but yet it is so versatile you can shoot in open areas and in a living room without losing quality or details. It’s a unique experience!

My intention with this text is just to show that a good camera is just a tool, what counts is the person who controls it. I hope this will inspire someone to do something special!

Thank you for the opportunity to write.

Wishing you well and good photos for us all!

My contacts:

http://www.flickr.com/renanluna

http://www.facebook.com/renanlunas 

Thank you again,

Renan Luna

A cat in the dark

Alone in the dark

Boys on the docks

Buddies

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Danger

Faith

From old times

In doubt on shop

Serenity

Spray and push

Looking the ocean

Dec 122013
 

Ralph Gibson Limited Edition Leica Monochrom

Only 35 pieces to be made available.

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Leica has done it again it seems with a VERY limited edition Leica Monochrome kit which includes a specially designed Monochrom (different cosmetics) as well as a special 35mm Summilux ASPH included as well.

Limited to only 35 pieces I expect this Ralph Gibson limited run to be EXPENSIVE. I could not find any details on cost yet so if anyone knows, feel free to comment. It looks quite special, I must admit!

You can check out Ralph Gibson’s website HERE. The last time Leica did a special run with him was for his limited edition MP which I have never seen for sale used.

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Ralph and his limited run MP from back in the day..these are just about impossible to find due to the scarcity of them

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Nov 212013
 

Shooting the legend: Zeiss Hologon 16mm/f8 with Leica m Monochrom

By Dierk Topp

Zeiss Hologon 16mm/f8 on Leica M Monochrom

This lens fascinates me since it was announced in the late sixties in a version as a fixed lens in a Zeiss Ikon body. And some time ago I bought this very special lens with Leica M mount and used it on the Leica M Monocrome. It is a Contax G lens, converted to Leica M mount. The price for one of the few original Hologon 15mm/8 lenses are about 17.000$ (if you find one). My price was less than 3.000€, still a lot but it is for a very special lens.

If you are interested, you may find some interesting information on this site:

http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/companies/nikon/nikkoresources/RF-Nikkor/Contax_RF/Zeiss-Hologon/index4.htm

The lens has a fixed aperture of f/8 and uses a ND center filter against the severe vignetting making it an effective fixed f/16!

Due to its almost symmetrical construction it has near zero distortion and superior DOF at f/8 and it is ideal for architecture and images for great DOF. The severe color/magenta shift is no problem on the MM.

Zeiss Hologon 16mm/f8

If you are interested, I would like to prepare some explaining text and and as many images, as you want.

My Hologon album is here on flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dierktopp/sets/72157636630037335/

and I append a few images, to show, what I am talking about :-)

regards

Dierk

Zeiss Hologon 16mm/f8 on Leica M Monochrom with center filter

Zeiss Hologon 16mm/f8 on Leica M Monochrom, ND center filter

Zeiss Hologon 16mm/f8 on Leica M Monochrom, ND center filter

Oct 222013
 

Almost a year with the Leica Monochrom by Allen Bourgeois

Hi Steve,

I have had my Leica M Monochrom for almost a year now and my 35 Summilux FLE for a little over a year. There are plenty of others that have gotten into the technical aspects of this camera and that has been compared and debated a lot in other reviews. I wanted to give a personal view of this camera and lens and how it works for me and the way I see. I also want to avoid the film vs digital debate in this because I love both. I feel that they are different and that’s a good thing.

Here are some thoughts on both the camera and the lens after some real-time with them both.

For me and the way I see and work, especially concerning my personal work, this has been a very good match. I had noticed before I pulled the trigger on the MM that a lot of my personal work was ending up as black and white final prints. It just seems to be the way I was and still am seeing. So when Leica announced the M Mononchrom I went on the waiting list.

When the camera first arrived and I put the 35 Summilux FLE on the camera it just felt right. I went through a bit of a learning curve and for me it takes a while for a camera or any equipment to become second nature. And this was no different from any other camera or lens. But it was soon after I really spent some quality time with this camera and lens that I found how well it worked with the way I work and see. I have read others say that this camera just gets out-of-the-way and I would say that is true for me. It has taken some time for this camera to become a real extension of my vision but it has and it has in a way that few other cameras have in the past. It’s a tool and a wonderful tool if you are like me and tend to see in black and white.

The fact that I can now shoot at 1600 and 3200 ISO is a great plus if you work on the streets the way I work. To be able to shoot at f/8 and f/11 and have shutter speeds of 1/500 of a second and faster is a great tool to have for fast paced street work. The lens has very good depth of field scales and makes it easy to hyper focus. I also find manual focus to be really good with this camera lens combo The files are amazing to work on and in my opinion you really do need to use some kind of post processing to get the best out of the files but also in my opinion that could be said for most digital files. I also prefer CS6 over Light Room and/or Silver Efex. Thats just personal preference.

There is no perfect camera that is going to be right for everyone. The one size fits all is not what this camera is about. It is a specific tool. I prefer manual focus, manual exposure, black and white and no frames per second. So for me and my personal work this camera has been a good fit for the way I see and work. It simple, uncomplicated operation, does just get out-of-the-way.

OK enough words already. Heres some work from the past year. I hope that you enjoy it. I did post some street work in D.I. #405 on April 16th, 2013.

Thanks Steve,

Allen Bourgeois

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Oct 022013
 

“Down The Drain” 

Down the drain

The Future Is In The Past – The Leica Monochrom and Photogravure

Max Marinucci Photography

Fine Art Photography

Silver Gelatin and Photogravure

South Salem, NY

www.maxmarinucci.com

As a photographer and printer, I’ve always seen the advent of digital photography as a mixed blessing. The gain in speed, convenience, immediacy, offered by digital photography, also meant the gradual loss of film and everything related to it (photographic paper, chemicals) and, more importantly, the loss of learned skills and knowledge that are needed to produce truly hand-made prints. I have, of course, continued to use film for most of my work and honed my skills producing quality silver gelatin prints, in a world when a photographer feels like he is constantly swimming against the digital current. Kodak is no longer a driving force and so many manufacturers have disappeared or stopped making photographic product, with Ilford being the only reliable and consistent source as of today. Over the past year, while still dedicated to film photography and silver gelatin, I’ve rediscovered what is the most venerable, and in my opinion most beautiful of photographic processes: photogravure. A venerable process, and a 19th century invention, it was indeed how photography came to life, on paper, at the dawn of it all. On the camera front, as a devoted Leica user, I’ve continued with my trusty M3 and later film incarnations as the M4, M6, M7 and MP, until finally breaking down and acquiring a Monochrom upon release. There was no denying that the allure of a no fuss, great Leica camera that captures images in black and white only was too much to bear but, as my personality dictates, everything has to have a clear purpose. I am not an inkjet printer and I see no purpose in spending a good chunk of hard-earned cash on a camera to simply post digital snapshots on social networks or photography related websites, in a vacuum, with a purely digital workflow. As a photographer, artist and a printer, how do I justify the investment and, better yet, how do I bring the amazingly detailed images that the Monochrom is able to record, to life, on paper? Marrying our historic photographic past to the latest in technology, in a seamless way, and one that offers the viewer, collector, buyer, a tangible product that is not mass-produced but it is a handmade work of art, seemed the one and only way for me.

The Leica Monochrom and Photogravure: the future is in the past.

“The Old Man By The Window”

Old Man By The Window

Because of technological advances within the printing industry, and pioneers such as Jon Cone of Piezography, Roy Harrington of QTR, and Mark Nelson of Precision Digital Negatives (and few others) today it is possible to print absolutely flawless digital positives to use for the photogravure process. Of course, that doesn’t make this amazing process any easier, as it still involves the same numerous (and full of pitfalls) steps as it did one hundred years ago, but one only needs to admire in person the incredible prints born from Leica Monochrom images and onto fine art papers, hand-made with beautiful inks, to realize how special this is. I firmly believe that for a fine art photographer and printer, who is willing to let go of the constant film versus digital battles and discussions, these can be exciting times, if only one is willing to learn and push the boundaries a bit. For my own work it has now come to a point when shooting film with the ultimate goal of making photogravure plates and prints is almost not worth it. Of course, medium and large format film still offer many possibilities but, at the end of the day, film still has to be scanned and that will always be the weakest link (and probably weaker as we go on, as film scanners are barely in production). While results can be more than acceptable with 35mm, and I will still continue on this path on occasion, the amount of detail and the possibilities available with the Leica Monochrom and photogravure are truly exciting and special.

“Porte, Cassis” 

Porte, Cassis 1

For the novice who may be wondering why go through the trouble of using such a cumbersome and antiquated process to produce a print, I’d like to again outline a few important points: obviously, for as beautiful as the best inkjet prints may be, there are no particular skills required and no “hands on” aspect. If one enjoys actually “making” something, an inkjet print gives no satisfaction. Then there is the aspect of the print itself. With inkjet, we have ink (and a crappy one in most cases), sitting on top of the paper. With photogravure etchings, the image is IN the paper. What does that mean? Well, an etching on copper is basically peaks and valleys. The valleys are the deep crevices, which hold more ink and create the deep shadows and blacks, and the peaks will hold much less and create the highlights in print. Of course, we have everything in between, for a true full range of tones. What this does is actually creating a relief on paper. The images have a structure and depth that one cannot replicate with an inkjet printer, or with any other process.

“Strength and Grace”

Strength and Grace

The Prints:

All prints are in editions of 20, with image size 12×8 for standard 35mm format and 8×8 for square crops. Printed on Magnani Revere or Somerset papers, using Graphic Chemicals, Charbonnelle, and Izote etching inks. Of course archival qualities far exceed those of inkjet prints and even silver gelatin. Every print is hand made by me, and hand pulled using a manual etching press. Aside from the original digital file and the production of a “positive” on clear film, the process is fully analog.

A word about the Photogravure process:

Please do note that when I say photogravure, I mean, “copper-plate photogravure”. There is another printing process that uses pre-sensitized “polymer” plates and a few “artists” have gotten into the habit of calling it simply “photogravure”. It is NOT the same thing! Copper plate photogravure, is an etching process. A gelatin resist that is first sensitized in potassium dichromate is exposed (using first an aquatint screen or rosin dust), then applied to a sheet of mirror finish copper, developed and finally “etched” in a series of ferric chloride acid baths. The Photo-Polymer process is NOT an etching process and it does not require chemicals in any of its steps. It is much easier to master and prints can be absolutely beautiful but…IT IS NOT “PHOTOGRAVURE”.

Sep 202013
 

Leica Monochrom Thoughts

by Ben Miller

Steve,

I recently attended a Leica Akademie Monochrom workshop in Chicago. My purpose of attending the workshop was to determine if I should upgrade to a Monochrom from my M9. I was curious to know if the extra tones from the Monochrom files would justify the upgrade. I was hoping that you would share my thoughts with others as they may be questioning this upgrade as well.

Here’s what I learned from the workshop:

Chasing after the extra tones from the Monochrom files may not be a good idea for me and here’s why. With the extra contrast that I add during post-processing I lose mid-tones. Some may say that I add to much contrast but it’s what I prefer. When I shot film I mainly shot HP5+ and would develop at home in my bathroom. I would lose mid-tones during scanning due to weaknesses inherent in the scanner that I used. The Epson V500 does an okay job when scanning medium format negatives but pretty much sucks when scanning 35mm. Next, I have a $300 laptop that is outdated. To really get the most from post-processing and to be able to view all the tones you should invest in a decent monitor. (I was told $1000 or so). It appears that I’ve never really experienced those great mid-tones from film due to my post-processing preferences, scanner, and crappy monitor. If I upgraded to a Monochrom I wouldn’t necessarily see those extra tones due to my on workflow. I can’t miss what I’ve never really had.

Now…… Here’s the good. When comparing the resolution of the files between an M9 and a Monochrom the Monochrom wins hands down. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I like to shoot in the evening when out and about. The high ISO capabilities of the Monochrom would be nice.

I’ve now decided that a Monochrom wouldn’t be a good investment for me as I wouldn’t necessarily reap the benefits of the camera. My wife and checkbook are happy to know that my connection to my M9 is solid as the benefits of a Monochrom don’t fit my style.

Overall I’m extremely happy with the experience and would definitely attend the workshop again. The instructor was extremely knowledgeable and held my attention. Meeting everyone was great. I really hope that I can cross paths with these gentlemen and lady again as I consider all of them new friends. I also had the opportunity to spend a few hours out on the street with a Monochrom and a lens that I have never shot with before.

I’ve attached some of the photos that I captured with the loaner Monochrom. All photos were shot with a 35mm Summicron at F8 using zone focusing. I post processed the raw files in Lightroom 4.

You can view more of my photos on my website www.photographsbyben.com.

Cheers,

Ben

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Sep 122013
 

FYI: I-SHOT-IT B&W Premium Contest ending in 19 days! Win a Leica Monochrom!

ishotit

I posted about the last two premium contests at I SHOT IT and they went on to reach over $20k in cash plus a Leica Monochrom as the grand prize. Guess what? Both winners from those two contests who each won over $20k and the camera came from THIS WEBSITE! Yes, they read about it here, entered and WON. Amazing and I am happy that I helped inform those who eventually entered and won. I just checked the I SHOT IT website and noticed the next Premium B&W contest is up in 19 days, and not nearly as many entries this time (maybe because I have not yet posted about it, lol). The cash prize is up to $3,640 and it grows with each entry. There is still a Leica M Monochrom attached as a prize as well.

To enter, just go to the I SHOT IT Premium Contest page HERE. This is a B&W photo contest and the prizes they give are simply amazing.

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