Question & Answer Wednesday – January 4th 2012

Question and Answer Wednesday – Your questions answered!

A couple of years ago I used to publish a weekly Q&A post where I would answer some of the questions sent in by readers. With questions flooding my inbox every day, and many of them asking the same things, I figured I would bring this back so those asking can see the answers here because I can not get to all of the e-mails. If I did I would not have time to do any reviews! So here are some recent questions that were sent to me. Want YOUR question answered? E-mail me HERE with the subject heading “Q&A”.


Question:  Hello Steve. My names Rich and I live in the UK. Despite my name I am not a rich or wealthy person and living in these austere times I need to make some perfect decisions regarding money making with my camera. The help bit.. I’m looking at the M8 with a , as yet undecided, genuine Leica M lens- all secondhand. I want a very basic set-up that can output raw files to make high quality prints from. What kind of print size can I max out at while keeping very high quality? The M9 is impossible for me, unfortunately, so the M8 is my main choice followed by the X1. Now the M8 is affordable would you recommend them having seen their output yourself? Especially shooting landscapes, cityscapes, street and portrait people+pets. Hope you can help Thank you. Rich

Answer: Hi Rich! Thanks for the question. The Leica M8 is still, even today, a wonderful high quality camera. The output can be gorgeous and yes, sometimes it can be garbage. All depends on the light, the lens, etc. The M8 excels in good light as the high ISO and low light performance by todays standards is pretty bad. If you shoot the M8 and a decent lens in good light it will reward you with wonderful color and rich sharp files. I always felt the M8 had a different look and feel to the files than the M9 files. The M8 is sharp and more “raw” where the M9 can be more smooth. It is a joy to shoot but even at the used prices of $2000 for the body it is still a major purchase for most.

Something like and M8 with a 35mm Summarit would be great. The 35 Summarit (if you can find one in stock) is really just as good as any other Leica 35, just slower in its aperture speed. This would work for your needs and as for printing, I never had any issues printing from an M8, large or small. I can not tell you details about sizes but that would not be a worry unless you wanted to print billboards. Even so, I feel the M8 could even do that. (Ive seen it with much lesser cameras and resolution).

So ask yourself if you can live with the low light limitations AND whatever you do, be sure to get the UV/IR filter for whatever lens you get as these are MANDATORY IMO! The X1 on the other hand can be found used for about $1300 these days and the quality is puts out is also spectacular. The X1 is still a great choice as well but it is slow to AF. The M8 will give you more control, bigger body, RF focusing and ability to change lenses. The X1 is small, simple, and gets out of the way of your shooting but it is slow! I have been expecting Leica to release new cameras in 2012 and my guess is a new X is on the way as well as a new M. Maybe even something else thrown in? Who knows, I sure don’t but I do remember Stefan Daniel telling me their goal was “every three years” for their major product refresh. M9/X1 was 2009 so here we are in 2012. What does this mean? That MAYBE prices of the M8/X1 will go down even further on the used market. We shall see!

Question:  Hi Steve, I just got a M9 + 50 noctilux f 0.95. Makes a shot where there is no shot :-). One amazing combination. The only issue I am noticing is that the within the exif info of the photos the f-stop is not being recorded properly. i shot bunch of pictures @f.95 but the exif info of the pictures shows f1.2 Have you noticed this? Thanks, Rohit

Answer: The EXIF info on the M9 is an approximation. There is no aperture data transferred between your lens and the M9 body so your processing software is “guessing” the aperture. The M9 can not tell you what aperture you shot at. The 6-Bit coding is only there to tell the camera what lens is on so it can apply software correction if needed.

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Question:  Hi Steve -Thanks for all the time you take answering questions – Love QA Wednesday ! What are your thoughts on storing lenses when you are not using them – I have a few lenses I hope to keep for a lifetime and wondered if there is a better way to store them ? I understand about not getting them to hot or cold but is there a preferred way to store them – Leica glass is not getting cheaper  Thanks – Gordon

Answer: Hey Gordon! Storing Leica lenses is easy. If you are not going to be using them for a while and have the box, I would put them in their case and in the box and keep them in a room or closet until you want to use them again. If you use them occasionally just keep them either in your bag, or on a shelf, cabinet, etc. If they are in your house then they should be fine for many many years to come. Once lenses get to be used and many years old they could always benefit from a CLA (cleaning, lubrication and adjustment) but lenses really require no special treatment in my experience. I know people who have had lenses in a cabinet for 20+ years and they are as good as new.

Question: Dear Steve, My girlfriend and I just got a Leica M6 this past Christmas. We found it at her parents’ house where it’s been stored in a closet for several years. (The camera was donated to an auction by Ralph Gibson and they bought it for virtually nothing!). The camera seems to be in excellent condition and has a 50mm Summilux Lens on it. Needless to say, despite having read the manual, we know very little about it and would appreciate any tips on how to operate (and enjoy) it. i.e. best film, lenses, guides, references… ANYTHING. Happy New Year and thanks in advance, Ben

Answer: Lucky you! You just acquired one of the best 35mm film cameras of all time. The M6 is fantastic but if you have never shot with a rangefinder it may be tricky trying to figure out how to meter and focus with it. I won’t go over details as that would require thousands of words but for the basics just attach the lens (the lens you have is one of the best so keep it and shoot with that one for a while) and look through the viewfinder. You will see a small square “patch” in the center. Notice when you move the focus dial of the lens that the square patch separates. To get your images in focus you aim it at your subject and turn the focus ring until both square boxes, or patches, come together. If shooting portrait I usually focus on an eye and then recompose and shoot.

Then there is the metering. For starters you have to set the aperture on the lens to your desired stop. Lets say you put it at f/2. You then look through the VF and if batteries are in the camera and working you will see a dot and arrows. Turn your exposure dial on the top of the camera until the red dot is lit up. This means your exposure is now correct. It takes some time to get used to and is not an auto focus or speed demon camera. With that said, once you learn it and use it, the images you can get out of it will have some of that classic film magic. Enjoy!

Question:  Hi Steve, Happy New Year!! Since a couple of weeks now I am following your blog/site, and I REALLY like it! Thank you for sharing your passion. It is truly inspiring!! Also sharing the work of your followers is awesome. I really think that you influence and challenge them to bring themselves to the next level. Thumbs up and keep up the EXCELLENT work:-)

One question I have. I am really looking forward to read your opinion about your thoughts are about the camera of 2011. According to your readers, the X100 is the winner. But, do you agree:-)? My sense is that you also like the EP-3 and the V1. Looking forward to read your comment! Thanks, Jeroen

Answer: Hey Jeroen! Thanks for the kind words. My favorite camera of 2011? That is not so easy as there were so many great and capable cameras! I love the E-P3 and probably had the most fun and use from that camera than any other in 2011. Of course  the Fuji X100 was the groundbreaking camera of 2011 with it’s EVF and superb color and quality BUT it is/was kind of slow and quirky so it became less and less fun to shoot for me. BUT the quality can not be denied from the X100. Then the V1 appeared and did 98% of everything right when it came to performance, ease of use, fun factor, video, color, metering, EVF, etc. The V1 is the camera I ended up taking with me almost every time I left the house, taking over the E-P3’s spot in my bag. The V1 and 10mm did what I wanted it to every time.

Of course we can not leave out the NEX-7 but I am seeing that as more of a 2012 camera because only a handful have actually shipped so far.

For breaking the mold and providing an APS-C sized sensor in a rangefinder styled body with a great and fast 35mm equivalent lens and wonderful Hybrid EVF I have to give the camera of the year to Fuji for the X100. The image quality is fantastic as is the style, design, and MOJO of this photographic tool. I’d give 2nd place to the Nikon V1 for sure. Again, I am not including the NEX-7 as I am considering that a 2012 camera due to the delay in shipping.

Question:  Hey Steve! Love your site and the insight you provide! I own a Sony Nex-5, and is currently interested in investing in the Nokton 40mm! The only thing that I have not been able to thoroughly research is, what adapter to use? I would think that all adapters did the same thing…yet I find adapters ranging from prices from 30-to the hundreds! I do realize that some of the adapters offer macro focusing and decrease in minimal focus range, but does that really matter if I plan on using it for a walk around lens? Thanks!

Answer: Thanks for the question! There are a few adapters you can get for your NEX-5. The best of the best in regards to fit and function is the NOVOFLEX adapter but it is really expensive at over $250. You can see it HERE. I owned the Novoflex for a while and it always did great with a tight fit and no hassles. I also owned a couple of cheap adapters that I purchased from Amazon, like THIS ONE. The problem I had with TWO cheap adapters is that after a few months of use both of them had a loose and wobbly fit and sometimes my pictures would not be critically in focus. I chalked it up to the cheap adapter. So you get what you pay for though many are using the cheap ones effectively.

Question:  Hi steve, I love seeing your works that I decided to ditch my slr for Leica. Without the slr, im really confused on which 3 lens should I get for the M9? Do you think wate+35+90 is a good combination? Or should i stick to 30-50-75/90 and use voigtlander lenses for the wide angle? Thanks, Gerry

Answer: Hey Gerry! Congrats on the Leica! This is really a question I can not answer for you. All I can do is tell you what I would do if it were me, but you are not me! If I were you I would go for a 28, 35 and 50. I have had them all and every time  I had a 90 I never ever used it! BUT that is just ME and MY experience. What do you want to shoot? If everyday life all you need is a 28 and 50 really. The problem is, the Leica 35mm lenses are sooooo good! First, look at your budget. Then decide what you will be shooting. I could be content and happy with a 28 and 50 but I just shoot daily life and street sometimes. The 28 Elmarit is so good on the M9, and not a bank breaker like the 28 Summicron and the 50 Summicron is also a fantastic lens but the Summilux is the ultimate for M9 shooters it seems. Everyone I know with an M9 seems to always end right back up with a 35 or 50 as their main goto 90% of the time lens. It seems that the M was made for those focal lengths.



Look for more Q&A next Wednesday! If you want to see your questions answered here, send them to me with the subject “Q&A Wednesday” to my e-mail HERE.


  1. To Gordon.

    I would add a suggestion to what Steve replied to you regarding the storage of lenses and as a matter of fact, anything photographic and/or optical.
    If you live in an area where relative humidity does not go over 55% then it is ok to store your lenses as advised by Steve (he lives in Arizona in very dry environment).
    If the humidity is over 55%, I would definitely invest in a good professional dry cabinet. Humidity above 60 percent is reputed to be the threshold where fungal growth starts, and you really do not want fungus on your equipment as it propagates very rapidly and would ruin all your gear.

  2. Hi Steve,

    Love your site, have been following you for some time. I’m posting for first time to ask an opinion.

    I was surprised to read in your Wednesday FAQ that you are now carrying the Nikon 1 as an EDC. I hear you on the ease of use and a fast AF shooter with great metering etc, but you have mentioned important downsides such as a the poor low light and lack of depth on a small sensor, which I would imagine are important to a pro-shooter like you (yes you are!).

    Now aside from the obvious liking that someone could obviously develop for such a bastardly, downtrodden and mong underdog, that in reality has many up-sides, why do you carry the Nikon 1?

    Yourself and Nikon both have indicated that the specific market for this camera is the average (or rather 90%) of general users, who probably are more into family / scenery / kids in action shots, and probably are not the kind who will involve themselves in portraiture or macro close-ups (like say foodies for instance), and not likely to be involve in large / professional prints and so are therefore not likely to miss things like DOF or smaller sensor. I guess what I am asking is: is your liking for this camera such that you would recommend this as a “pro-sumer” / enthusiasts’ camera?

    What I am alluding to is the fact that “pro-sumers” / enthusiasts are probably the kind of people who will move onwards to become collectors. And what I wonder about, and probably what the general negativity about the Nikon 1 is about, is that there is a lot of implicit faith (dare I say fan-boism?) placed in Nikon that they will “head in the right direction”, so to speak: that they will make brighter, faster lenses; that they might move onwards with Nikon 1 V2 to a larger sensor.

    Ken Rockwell (of his own website fame, who probably falls into the category you described of people criticizing the camera without having shot with it) has actually raised a good point in that you are needing to trust that Nikon will make this work. If you invest yourself into collecting the F series lenses, what happens if Nikon doesn’t improve on what should be improved and the whole line collapses?

    Should the “pro-sumer” invest in the coming generations of NEX and MFT?

    • Hey Alan. I take the V1 out with me everywhere to use as my personal family and snapshot camera. I do not use it for pro work of course. It gives me faster, more consistent results than any other mirrorless though I do still shoot the E-P3 because the lenses are so good. The V1 is great for video as well and even at night I am finding the quality way above the M4/3 offerings. The V1 is great and until someone uses one consistently they seem to just not understand it. 🙂

      • Well your high praise of the V1 has really tempted me to get one. I currently shoot with the 5d mk2 and have recently bought the only xz-1 as a basic p&s based on good reviews from many incl yourself, but your reviews over the past few months have made me really want a mirrorless interchangeable.

        I guess it’s hard to tell who’s heading in the right direction. The M4/3 guys who seem to not understand viewfinders but have their bigger sensors and faster lenses (at least for the time being). Or Nikon, who in the singular stroke of including a build in Evf tells me that we are at least on the same page, but I’m just not sure about the lack of Dof which bothers me because I do use fore/mid/backgrounds in a lot of my shot composition… But that metering…

        I guess I just have to bite the bullet and buy everything like you and sell what doesn’t suit me. 😛

  3. @ Rich, I did consider X1 but ended with a 2nd-hand M8 few years ago. I was close to replacing my M8 with a M9 last September before my China trip. In the end settled with my M8 instead. M9 is sure tempting but can’t justify it. Had a ball with M8 with 2nd-hand 35mm Summicron though. Beside Leica, Zeiss (and Voigtlander) lenses in M-mount are good as well. Have a look at Steve’s review of non-Leica lenses or my humble photostream – Most of my “China 2011” photos were taken with a M8 + 35mm Summicron. Landscape photos were taken with a Voigtlander 15mm lens (purchase influenced by Steve’s review here).
    With the money I saved, here comes Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 v.2

  4. Steve, I just wanted to agree with you about print size. While I do not own an M8 or even a 6MP camera, I have had images from my D2h bodies (4.1MP) used on billboards. With the availability of software, megapixels don’t mean much. High MP or FF cameras are extremely useful when there is a need to crop I would imagine but I have always been a “fill the frame” kinda shooter and do very little, if any, cropping to my images. I routinely do 12″X18″ prints with my D2h images without a problem thanks to available resizing software. The only area I feel I lack in with my “vintage” D2h bodies is the fantastic low noise high-ISO that today’s cameras are capable of.

  5. Lens storage – humidity is an issue where I live – place lens into plastic zip bag with silica gel packet, place both inside lens case

  6. I recently sent a favorite old Nikon lens in for cleaning. I was told that what appeared to be dust on the internal elements was actually mold which over a period of time caused permanent etching of the coated glass. In places with high humidity like Ohio, lenses should be stored in a closed cabinet with a desiccant – especially if they aren’t going to be used for a period of time.

  7. Hi Steve,

    My previous comment about storage was dangerously imcomplete.
    So I couldn’t sleep and got out of my bed again (Holland is sleeping now) in an attempt to save your readers nocti’s!

    Those plastic boxes I do have for my enlarger lenses. And my first lens after 30+ years still is cristal clear. But.. those lenses never saw a humid environment.

    For 25 years I only used an FM2 with two lenses and almost always kept them in a very compact padded nylon camera bag.
    Rainy weather is excellent for B&W photography. So every now and then things got wet. And ofcourse I dried the gear before putting it back in the bag. Now the body is still in excellent condition. The two lenses however are -only very slightly- hazy. They were often stored in the lens compartments deeper away and more closed-off in the bag.
    Maybe it was just the rain and the fact that those lenses are not completely weathertight. But the non-breathing storage environment certainly will not have helped.

    My local camera dealer once told me that cameras should not be stored in a safe. They are usually quite airtight. I might be the reason why many safes have an odour when opened. As might have your plastic hammer and screwdriver toolbox when opened after a long time. I suppose it’s the fungi that create the smell.

    My lenses -although not with an M-pricetag- are stored in a non-airtight wooden locker in plastig bags- against dust- in a normal heated room , but I always am a bit afraid to close those bags.



    • .
      Put a little silica gel sachet into any boxes or bags holding lenses.

      Every 4 months or so, take out the silica gel sachets and gently warm them in an oven to dry them out again, so that they’re ready to absorb any moisture again. Then put back with the lenses.

    • Lynn

      The news reports say that Kodak is getting ready to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, which means they hope to continue operation under the protection of the Backruptcy Court from their creditors, while they reorganize the company and their debt, and possibly sell assets. So in the short term Kodak will continue to supply Leica with digital sensors.

      In the long term Leica can be supplied by any of the major companies (i.e. Sony, Canon, Fuji, Samsung, etc.) that are making digital sensors. My person opinion is Leica is getting prepared for a time when they will need to consider other sensor suppliers or other sensor types (CMOS vs. CCD), which is why there is so much effort to develop new wide angle lenses.

      The problem could be in the medium term, if Kodak’s creditors push back in the bankruptcy process or Kodak Is not able to get short term financing and liquidation, called Chapter 13, becomes necessary. This might force Leica and the other companies using Kodak sensors to find a new supplier, which might force product delays. Though if Kodak is liquidated, other companies will probably step in to buy the sensor business, the patents have already been sold, and production may not be impacted for too long.

      This will be interesting to watch.

    • .
      The imaging sensor division has already been sold by Kodak to an investment group who intend to keep it going, unaffected by Kodak’s solvency situation.

  8. Hi Steve, on your first post you said that an UV/IR filter is MANDATORY. I have many B+W UV filters but none with IR. What is so important about the IR? I have a Sony NEX 7 with Leica and Voigtlander lenses. Thank you.

    • Bryan

      The IR filter is needed on lenses mated to a Leica M8 camera, which has a much weaker internal IR filter than most cameras. Many synthetic materials (such as nylon) will reflect IR light, which is common from incandescent lights. So in a color photo of a person wearing a black nylon jacket indoors, the jacket will appear slightly purple in the image. The filter corrects this on the M8. The NEX-7 does not need the filter.


  9. Hi Steve,

    Being a long time reader, still highly appreciate your website!

    Regarding storage of camera’s and lenses, the ‘Dutch Leica Doctor’, Wil van Maanen, writes on his website at the Leica page (also in English) that leather is not good for permanent storage of cameras and lenses since this material -in fact being dead animal- stimulates growth of fungi.
    So for long time storage: no leather.
    Since I don’t have those nice Leica boxes I store most of my lenses in cheap but good plastic zipper-sealed freezer bags from Ikea, in a locker, away from the leather stuff.

    Keep up the great work!


    • It is also a good idea to store lenses with both lens caps on, and the aperture set to its widest setting. This will keep any lubricant on the aperture blades on or between the blades and will help prevent the lubricant from drying out. Otherwise a CLA will be necessary.


  10. Can anybody fill in more info on how the M9 guesses at f-stop? I had felt that the exif info sometimes a little off, but always close enough that I believed it. How does that guessing work? I shoot raw and process in Lightroom.

  11. Why not just take the lens hood and filter off once and a while and blow the dust out if its such a big problem ? Not looking to start a debate about if its silly or not to always have a UV on the camera for “protection”, but given its a system thats designed to be taken on/off, hardly see where the big issue lies.

    Granted, I do think Fuji’s hoods are way overpriced, but wait a little longer and you can get a knock off for $10 rather than $60, just as happened with the X100 hood, which now has tons of knockoffs on the market and I doubt anyone is paying Fuji’s insane $150 pricetag

    • Just seems to me the design should be closed. What’s the point of having a filter if it’s continually getting dirt BEHIND it?

      I really notice it on windy days – especially up here in snow country…again, what good is it if it’s allowing stuff to get behind the filter?!

  12. Hey Steve – spoke with fuji about this last week…has ANYONE mentioned the gaping design flaw in the x10 lens hood system?

    I paid $59 for this pricey system only to find it is designed wrong! There are slots which reside BEHIND the filter threads. It allows dirt and dust to get in BEHIND the filter!

    Fuji said they haven’t heard anything about it. I’m fairly p.o.’d that I paid so much for a hood I need to modify.

    Any thoughts?

    Matt in Colorado.

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