Some Leica M9 and 50 Summicron B&W images

Was out today and whadda ya know! ย It started snowing really bad! Since I had my M9 in hand I told my wife I wanted to get some shots of her (to later convert to B&W) with snow falling all around her. Well, just as I was about to press the shutter button the snow stopped! The light was fading so I took a few snaps anyway and converted them all to B&W with Silver Efex Pro. Most of ย these were OOC JPEGS but I like the way the 50 Cron handled the flat dull light. All of these were shot at F2 ๐Ÿ™‚

Mina looks mad here but she really isn’t. She was not aware of when I was going snap and I snuck this one before she smiled, and I like it better than the one with the smile ๐Ÿ™‚

My dog was out and he came up to her as if he wanted to get in on the pics. He is a 12 year old mutt and is the best dog in the world (to us).

The micro-contrast of the 50 Summicron really is pretty special. Even at F2 it renders in a sweet way and the Bokeh here looks good to my eyes. Not “amazing” and some may call it “busy” but does it really take anything away from the photo? Nope, not in my opinion. Print one of these out, show it to 20 people and not one would say “Ugg! Look at that Bokeh!” ๐Ÿ™‚

Just wanted to share these as I shot them AFTER my 50 Summicron review and feel they are a good representation of B&W with this lens. Thanks for looking!


  1. Hey David, yea, I agree that Black and White film shots are a thing of beauty. But it is funny. When I was posting B&W images where I added grain I was getting comments saying keep it clean and “why do you want it to look like film”. These were just to show the M9 and 50 cron so I did not want them to have noise added. All I did to these was the B&W conversion. No other PP.

    Also, no light was added and it was a grey dreary day. Thanks!

  2. Hello Steve!
    Did you light up the subject or was it just natural light. Anyway the picture is so sharp that in the 3 frame you could almost count the hair strands.

  3. In my opinion, the beauty of some of the shots coming out of the M6 series camera of old are grainy due to film being used and such. I think the shots here are very nice but too digital looking. Add some grain in Silver Efex and make ’em look more like film. My opinion only…

  4. Damen, no offense, but if you’re using Hollywood as your gauge for great art, you’ve missed the point of this medium already.Yes, technically adept cinematographers are indispensable, but I know from my video work that most pros are fooled by every latest and greatest, marketing pixel hyped camera(even though they work in Hollywood), but if you look at the greatest films of all time, none are remembered because they are sharp. They are remembered because they painted a lasting image in our minds with their creative use of the medium. Sharpness has its place, but most of the masters avoided naturalism for the sake of naturalism. They didn’t want their photos to look like cheesy neighborhood studio photos.
    I am not super impressed with these shots, but there is absolutely nothing “wrong” with the images. They are great for what Steve meant them for which is to give examples of the lens’ capabilities/limitations. I know what Bokeh and aliasing, etc. are and I couldn’t care less. As Steve pointed out, the masters didn’t have these modern aspherical lenses. They didn’t even have coated lenses. But look at an Ansel Adams photo and tell me if you can find softness. Tack sharp throughout. Large format not withstanding, he or Bresson or Robert Frank or whomever, moved people with their photos because something powerful was transferred. They were the opposite of modern Hollywood. I am definitely into high end gear and I love to shoot with the best. After handling $7,000 Leica bodies with $5,000 lenses, I can honestly say that if one masters lighting(not that I have) and zone focusing and has true vision, one can make just as good as if not better photos with good equipment as they can with their “great” equipment. And yes, most technically unaware people would probably love these shots. Great. Maybe it’s not because they’re ignorant to what we who scrutinize see, but because they actually see what we have trained ourselves to miss….the simplicity and beauty of the image itself. Cheers, Steve.

  5. The first picture has a very nice “integration” of subject and background. Here the “bokeh” of the lens is put to great effect. Every lens has it’s unique out of focus rendering, I have a Hasselblad 80 which has a very noticeable out of focus rendering but sometimes one manages to make that effect work just right, where something smoother would have been less effective.

  6. I think the lens achieves the perfect ‘bokeh’ effect. just gradually fading from focus into the distance. The intent here is to portray elements of the scene as well as the subject and a stronger, smoother and more blurry bokeh effect would have destroyed that!

  7. Anyone who complains about the bokeh of a nice leica prime is out of there minds. I think the bokeh is beautiful and adds a wonderful texture to the shot instead of being a complete soft focus washed out look which is alright in a studio portrait shoot but gets old after the ten thousandth portrait. You should never have to rely on the bokeh to enfasive the subject, use your compositon and lighting to do that for you and let the bokeh do what it will. Just my two cents.

  8. despite what damen said about the bokeh taking away from the subject, i totally disagree. i’ve been really looking into bokeh this past 6 months, and i have learnt a lot about it. people say this about a lens, people say that about a lense, at the end of the day, bokeh is not a constant and different things happen is different scenarios. good lenses are made to look medeocre in some case, not so well known lenses can look great in certain scenarios. at the end of the day, the picture is good regardless of what the bokeh is. someone likes one thing, someone else likes another, it all means nothing at the end of the day. a great shot, is a great shot. steve, that shot of your wife is with its bokeh is great.

  9. Thans Elaine! The good news is that the 35 cron will be even better and on the M8.2 will almost be a 50 so you are good to go! Let me know how you like it as the M8.2 is a very nice camera. You have the black paint (if you bought the black) which is nicer than the M9 black paint IMO, the black dot (which is cooler than the red dot IMO), the scratch proof LCD (that is not on the M9) and you also have the upgraded frame lines and shutter.

  10. I’m sorry, but I think these came out absolutely beautiful. I know what Bokeh is, and think this is good enough for me!I don’t have a rich man’s wallet to buy the Summilux lens…yet. I’m not a pro, but quite frankly most people who would want a portrait would love these photos.I think this is a wonderful lens. I hope the 35mm Summicron is as good as this on a M8.2! Wow. I just love it. I don’t have Nik software, but I do have Photoshop! I play around with gradient maps and the black and white settings. I’m sure many people will disagree, but you can only work with what you have. Not everyone has the funding to get those lenses. Again, these look fabulous to me. Thanks for sharing them, Steve.

  11. I love these photographs. They’re technically pleasing which just complements the subject perfectly. This is really where the Leica shines. – Brandon

  12. Hey Walt, who here said that ANY of these had smooth bokeh? I know I didn’t. What I basically said here was that to my eyes, the bokeh is fine and dandy and does not take anything away from the image. I stand by that 100%. I should make a video by taking one of these prints to a busy city street and asking 100 people if there is anything in the image that they do not like. I bet you NONE would say “bokeh’ or background blur. May be a fun project ๐Ÿ™‚

    Anyway, I feel there is nothing wrong with the 50 cron bokeh and find it rather nice at times. is it a total washed out blur like the summilux? No, but does that make or break a photo? No, it does not.

    BTW, I saw that guide a long time ago and it is basically one mans opinions on these lenses, just as my site and ramblings are also one mans opinions. He should have added samples from each lens in that guide though to make it a bit more effective.

    Giving the 50 Cron a “5” is IMO a bit off. It should be a 6! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. The bokeh in the first two shots is anything but smooth. In the third shot, it is quite acceptable. The 50 CRON has many strong points but bokeh is not one of them. This article from Mike Johnston on bokeh is good reading. I have used many of the lenses in his article and his ratings are very much in line with my experiences.

  14. Nice portraits. Her eyes show that you like them a lot, maybe a little overdone on the close-up ๐Ÿ˜‰


  15. I’m so in love with my Summicron 50. It’s a wonderful lens (even if I’m more a 35mm guy !). The bokeh is so nice and it’s really sharp at F2. Cool portraits !

  16. This is absolutely true – an “untrained eye” may not comment, and certainly would not have the vernacular to express succinctly, but I believe they would notice (at LEAST at a subliminal level) even if they had not the words to describe … The problem is that once you learn what flaws are (whether they be in bokeh, aliasing, moire, colour balance or “softness” in corners) there is no way to unlearn this knowledge and to view with a “virgin eye”. This is the bane of ANYONE who has technical knowledge whether it be in stills, video or finger painting. As we are people who DO see these differences, we can admit they certainly exist – maybe they are of lesser relevance to other people, but I believe they still count … The day Hollywood hires Jo Average off the streets to “Colour Grade” and edit “Lethal Weapon 11 – The Homecoming”, I am OUT of here !! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. I totally disagree and I bet if I had a print of one of these and showed 20 people none would even mention the “bokeh” as they would not even know what the word meant. ๐Ÿ™‚ In all honesty, the only people that stress over this kind of stuff are photo gear fanatics like us. I am learning to get away from that kind of thing though as I find it starts to take away from what photography is all about.

    If that third photo was shot with a summilux ASPH the bokeh would not have been *that much* different really. A tad bit smoother and the subject would have been no sharper. Now, if it were a Noctilux, that is a different story as that becomes a totally different type of look (one I happen to love).

    The old masters of photography did not have a $10,000 noct or a $3800 Summilux and many of the long time classics were shot with a 50 cron. The 50 Lux is stellar no doubt, but for me, not worth the extra $2K that I would of had to pay for one. Thanks for your thoughts and for looking!

  18. Actually I think that “busy bokeh” DOES take one’s focus away from the subject – which is a pity because it is still a great photo … I guess (me not knowing what the Bokeh of the Summilux-ASPH is like) if it takes a $10,000 lens to rectify this (you KNOW which one I’m talking about!), maybe we can all live with the slight lack of perfection … ๐Ÿ™‚

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