Second go with the Leica M Monochrom
By Chris H
Not long ago, I published my first blog post via stevehuffphoto.com (Many thanks to Steve for sharing my write up) about my first serious experience with the Leica M Monochrom + Vintage LTM lenses in Paris.
The Leica M Monochrom has definitely sparked my passion for black and white photography. I love shooting in black and white but was never as motivated until owning the Leica M Monochrom. One of the main reasons is because the Leica M Monochrom leaves me no alternatives but to shoot in black and white. There were times that I struggled to generate great black and white frames but the more I struggled, the harder I pushed myself. I love keeping myself at the limit because that’s where you unleash your full potential. Some people might ask why did I not keep a color camera in hand but that is because I like to be completely focused on the one thing I wish to master. From time to time I seek challenges, keeping myself out of the comfort zone is a method to achieve improvement.
Tokyo, Japan is one of my favourite capitals as it has some of the most astonishing architecture, countless vintage camera stores and of course Japanese food allowing me to enjoy more than 3 meals per day. Being a frequent traveller, I am always impressed by what I see but to also be able to capture it exactly as how I felt at that moment is not easy. Often one perfect frame which I already have in mind will take quite long to reproduce through my camera and lens. This time I have decided to explore a very unfamiliar focal length – 21mm Knowing that it might not be easy to use since the Leica M 21 F/1.4 ASPH is not a shift lens (I love lenses with shift movement for shooting architecture / landscape) plus the widest focal length I experienced is 28mm. Being a first timer with the 21mm I had this fear which I might not able to cope with such wide perspective in such a short matter of time. Finder choice, I picked the Universal Wide-angle Viewfinder. Yes, not many people like it due to the look, plus it adds weight and size to the M but for me I value its practicality.. It is bright, like a TV screen and features that beloved leveler. The leveler is a star because I dislike correcting perspective in post-production; dragging or cropping pixels are never a good thing. For a filter option, I went for a normal UV MRC by B+W which I did not prefer too much and would have loved to have a yellow filter (rarely in stock in Hong Kong) for boosting the shadow detail a little.
First location – Tokyo International Forum
This is a masterpiece location which I visited as part of an architectural tour almost 10 years ago. There are only bits and pieces in my memory which I can recall unfortunately. Being able to return and appreciate this beauty after so long has made me very emotional. The camera was kept in the bag for the first 45 minutes or so after arriving on site. I just wanted to focus on enjoying the atmosphere and every bit of detail like the materials, shape and structure which formed this amazing art piece. As time went on, the sun found its way out of the clouds. I have noticed some amazing shadows being cast on the ground through the curtain wall and roof structures. Walking up and down, standing and kneeling. People at the Tokyo International Forum must have thought I am a strange person but I could not care less because I knew that there was not much time left for me to enjoy this ultimate wonderland and to make the most of it, I had to focus. As a first timer to the 21mm the final images are very encouraging; I am pretty much in love with this focal length.
Understand one thing, shooting a non Tilt-shift ultra wide forces you to work harder on composition. The Leica M 21 F1.4 Summilux Asph is extremely sharp even at wide open (if you own a good copy); to me, stopping down is for extra depth of view plus getting rid of the slight vignette. There is a bit of pincushion distortion at the edges but is totally acceptable as such fast aperture ultra wide is not easy to design. Running the lens profile option through Lightroom 4 can correct the distortion instantly.
Second Location – Tokyo Sky Deck
An awesome location that allows you to capture Tokyo’s skyline and sunset without having massive glass windows in front killing the image quality! Even though you are not that into photography, it is a great location to spend an afternoon with your loved ones. As the sun goes down, seeing Tokyo lighting up slowly, the atmosphere is just incredible. If you want a good spot, please be sure you arrive early because there were plenty of photographers that were already there in the early afternoon.
Pre-Owned Leica items
Thanks to the super guide by Tokyo camera style, I was able to check out a few vintage camera stores around Tokyo. Price wise was not very attractive but you can always find mint to like new condition items in Japan. Therefore if you are looking for collector grade items, Japan is the place to go!
I could never get enough of Tokyo. Revisiting is the only option!
I hope you all enjoy the images. Please be sure to leave any comments and feedback by either emailing me or leaving me a message on my Facebook page! Thank you!
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