State Fair Time! M9 and 35 Lux ASPH pics…

The Arizona State Fair is in town and it’s always fun to visit. The weather is usually cooled down to the mid 80’s (at night) and there is always something cool to see and tons of crazy food items to be had as well. Yep, fall time is fair time and I love the fall 🙂

An annual “must do” – The State Fair!

Yep! We were out last night at the State Fair and had a fun time. With the fried Twinkies, the fried Snickers, and chocolate dipped scorpions how could one resist a visit to this wonderful world of fatty foods and intense thrill rides? My son Brandon had both the fried Twinkie AND the fried Snickers along with a huge turkey leg for dessert 🙂 He left with his tummy stuffed but he enjoyed every second of it. As always, you can click on any image to enlarge it and see a bigger, better version.

The sights, the sounds, the rides, the games…it’s all part of the fair experience. I did not get much shooting in but the M9 and 35 Lux made for a superb night time fair combo. Had no issues with noise and shot wide open or close to it all night.

I also shot one image with my Iphone 4 – LOVE my Iphone 4!

I plan on going back to the fair this week to shoot more but with the G2 and a Nikon D3100 and possibly the Nikon D7000. Should be a good test for these cameras. I shot at the fair quite a few years ago with the Canon 5D and came away with some fun stuff, but to date, the M9 and 35 Lux combo seems to do it for me for low light night shooting. Gotta love the 35 Lux. BTW, this was the previous version, NOT the newer version with the floating element which seems to just now be getting into the hands of those who pre-ordered them weeks ago.

My next visit…I plan on searching out the Chocolate Dipped Scorpions. Now that is some good eatin’!

UPDATE – Had some requests for some color shots…here ya go!


  1. Hi Steve. Thans for the wonderfull colorshots! But please also give us picture no. 7, 11 and 13 in colour.

    • Wow, those color shots are so blatantly different.

      The first one, the wide shot is just awesome – love those Leica colors (and who said the M9 doesn’t do reds very well???). Just sweet. Leica definitely has ethereal colors.

      And the image of your son – it’s amazing how B&W has the effect of drawing your eyes to the main subect – whilst the color version is forcing me to take in everything else in the image – like the kids sitting in the highchairs – which I didn’t notice in the B&W.

  2. OK. Finally picked up a (barely) used 35 lux asph… Wow, have I been missing out! After one day of shooting I can tell that this is a whole new ballgame with my M9. Can’t wait to slap it on the M8.2 and MP. As I shoot mainly wide open, not sure that I’ll notice any shift. Paid close to 3K, but hey – it’s better than 5k. Now I’m off to sell some fine lenses including my 35 Nokton 1.4 – which has been great also.
    Thanks Steve.

  3. … it´s about one in the morning here in Germany, Kate Bush is singing on my Mac and I´m taking the best break in working on my ballett-pictures I can, having a look on your images 🙂 year … this rocks!

    Hugs … Schorsch

  4. So no one wants to comment about composition and use of light and shadows for night work? Just gear again? :-S

    While night is dark (who’d of thought). With a wide to semi wide lens when shooting street or urban style like in these. That more DOF is always needed. Without the background then a loss of context occurs and there is no story to most subjects without their environment.

    Spot meters help here because matrix meters try to expose everything correctly and being machines don’t often know what it is that is important to be exposed in the image (no not highlights and shadows…. the actual objects of interest).

    The talk of high ISO by most people belies what is fundamental with most people that have taken up shooting post 2000 or so. Lack of understanding of exposure, zone systems and how light works. I find that 1600 (pushed or pulled to that) film is PLENTY of sensitivity with a f2 or 2.8 lens.

    This brings me back to the original question – what is it about shooting at night that people need to focus on to get good and interesting photos that take advantage of the night?

    • Of course. Composition; always a difficult subject.

      In most of these images (apart from the rather obvious “fight obesity” flavor) the point(s) of interest are, either on purpose or not on purpose, dead centre in the image. For some (Ferris wheel f.i.) that is almost unavoidable, for others (the “boy and girl” ones) I think a more imaginative viewpoint could have been chosen, imo.

      Steve’s disclosure on “spot” (I know it’s centre weighted on the M9) metering is interesting though needs further clarification. As a D700 user I know the usually near-perfect 3D matrix metering (of course) tends to overexposure in the dark. Can be corrected in LR pp, should be corrected when shooting.

      What are your tips here Steve?



      • The idea behind the 3D matrix metering sounds excellent, but I wonder if it really makes a difference in a real world situation, particularly compared with good spot metering + exposition lock, which makes me feel more in control (maybe is not even true in the end). What do you think Michiel, Steve?

        I would also like to understand better how it works technically.

        • In my experience CT Nikon’s 3D matrix metering is spot-on in let’s say 90% of all situations. The 10% is when it overexposes in low light.

          Compared to the all manual centre weighted metering of my trusted FM2 (not all that different from M8/M9 metering I think) it’s a lot faster. With the FM2 and Tri-X I usually expose for some grey object (a sidewalk or similar), which works as well but is less accurate. The latitude of Tri-X compensates for that.

          What do you think Steve?

    • Hi Richard

      Thanks for saying what I was thinking. To expand on your comment I can’t for the life of me work out why Leica doesn’t just put spot metering in their cameras (as that’s all I ever use). Lucky for me, I’ve got a decent spot meter gizmo (plus the D3 had it built in) – but I’m loathe to carry it around *with* the rangefinder. I guess I’m just going to have to get used to the old fashioned method.

      Personally I like to shoot with as low an ISO as possible. Leica’s 160 will be a fresh change from Nikon’s 200.

      You’re right about the sensitivity of f2 being sufficient, however sometimes, f1.4 just helps you get that shot you may not have at f2 (in terms of fast shutter speed).

      • Leica put spot metering …. in the DLUX4 …. 😀 :-D. It is s actually the only thing type of metering I am using on the DLUX4. And they put AE and AF lock too ….

  5. I’m starting to see the ‘Leica look’ you reference so frequently. It really is quite desirable, but £5000 for the M9 body alone is a little over my budget 😛

  6. Hey Steve

    Great images! Dare I say it, your older style is showing here (which I really like). I feel like your website has become my USA-season-viewer. Sure we get seasons here in Oz, but I cannot wait for your snow to fall (because the resultant images are so sweet)……..

    Keep up the super work. I think I speak for many here when I say that your site not only inspires, it provides something to look forward to. But don’t let all that pressure get to you……hahaha……

  7. Steve, where are the color versions of these shots? I love night time color shots of rides. Can you show some of them? I adore B&W, but the shots are missing that carnival neon color look to them.

  8. Hi Steve,

    Did you always shoot at the maximum aperture?

    What ISO setting did you use? Did you make any exposure correction?


    • No, I do not always shoot at Max aperture but at night I usually always do. ISO was between 1000 and 2500 for these. No exposure correction but metered manually.

      • I love the bokeh in the portraits (is it still bokeh even if the lens is not a tele????). By meter manually you mean you used your experience to decide the time/aperture combination?

        People complain about M9’s high ISO, but I find the look of this pictures really lovely.

  9. hello steve!

    would you care to share (oh hey i’m a poet… ;)) some of the settings you shot with? did you shoot b/w jpeg’s straight from the camera and how high did you have to go iso-wise?

    just curious as i seem to be having some noise/sharpness issues myself (shooting raw, though – not jpegs).


  10. I love the last shot…made me giggle when I saw the text at the Left side. Nice capture…..

    As for the 35 lux, there’s something about the backgrounds that don’t quite do it for me….a bit too geometric….maybe I am just convincing myself that I don’t want/need the lens. It does render ohhh so sharply.

    I do love the images aimed at the night sky and the various fair attractions…

      • Hi Lucy,
        I do have the 35 lux asph (last version, not the current version). I do like the lens quite a bit, and have called it my favorite lens for Leica, period. The newer version seems to render OOF more harshly, while rendering focused aspects of the image more sharply. It almost seems as if Leica adjusted the sharpening of the lens, and I am not convinced that I like it more than the last version.

        I will probably stick with the 35 lux asph that I have….

        Hope that makes sense…

  11. Hi Steve,
    I really like your site but I think these shots are just mediocre at best. Not stuff that makes me “Gee… that’s a wannahave combo”… Or am I missing something?


  12. I find ive been growing fond of digital noise. Maybe its just me but it seems now that its more the norm, digital that is, it is starting to look prettier. nothing on film grain of course but still. These pictures are in the sweet spot, clean enough to be easy to look at, noisy enough to have an edge. Whenever I see D3s type shots taken at night which look super clean, just isint the same.

    • I 100% agree.. My speculation is that to the the human eye the noise free sharpness of “pro” DSLR cameras look unnatural. It’s like the super clear rendering in most computer games or “pixar” style movies. They look “nice” but not “real”..
      When the eye looks at dark environments there is a “blotchiness” and a “random” gray noise from misfiring of the light receptors in the eye and the “extrapolation” of the brain to “compensate” for missing information..
      In my mind this is much closer to how a B&W photo with some film grain/digital noise looks like…

      My 2 cents..

      • You are essentially correct. What I do tell people is that if you want pictures with some soul and look “real”, shoot film. It’s pointless to try to emulate film in digi-world (until film is defunct of course 🙂

        • I definitly do shoot film when i want the “soul” but more and more when I do use digital I find myself not using noise reduction at all, even for large prints and detail work, I let the noise fall where it wishes so to speak.

    • I’m wondergin how the D7000 compares to the D90 in terms of ISO? I wonder if it’s a huge leap. I know Thom Hogan will be testing one soon. Can’t wait to see what he says.

  13. Man, the only problem with that lens is that I spend so much time admiring the OOF areas I forget to look at the subject!

    Nice shots.

    I will be interested to see the low light performance of the D7000, particularly the shadow noise in color.

    Good work.


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