My Leica love and Pursuit by Nilton Junior
Hi guys! My name is Nilton (speak it as Newton) and I would like to share with you a little about my Leica love and pursuit.
I can say that the very begging is when I was about 9 or 10 years old and my beloved Mom had a small eyeglasses store, I was there all time listening about dioptric grads, types of glasses, aberrations, and others optical terms, but the most I can remember was about good glasses from Carls Zeiss that she no so often used to sell. It was fantastic; if I remember right it was the most exotic glass you could buy for your frame in that time. Here it is, my very first memories about good German optics.
Panasonic GX1 + Canon FD 55mm 1.2f @ 1.4f – ISO 800 – 1/400
When I was about 17 years old I realized I really loved Physics, Mechanical Physics, but pretty much Optic Physics as well, so I went to engineering school. There I had my second touch with German optics products as I performed a 2 year government paid research about laser emission from neodymium glass at about ultra violet spectrum, almost not visible light. So what equipment did I use to make all that measurements of emission, reflection and absorption? Almost all very high precision equipment was from Leica or Zeiss. They are the most well named brands between scientists tools and an optical lab, without them is legless, or so.
Well, but what does all of that geek stuff have to do about photography? Probably nothing but making a big story short, when little small things from the past creates standards and marks at our minds and influence ours decisions about every thing in life, this has done a lot for my photography style, and I can tell it is just the beginning.
Fujifilm X100 from my wife J @ 2.0f – ISO 3200 – 1/300
In 2007 I was about to make my first trip for Europe, and decided to buy a decent camera. I knew nothing about photography, but remember that the seed was planted, so I bought a Canon G9! Yes… I know, WTF?! Actually, the only preference I had that time that remains in me today is, I want a damn small but powerful camera with me. Never thought about using an SLR.
So after that trip I realized that the G9 didn’t achieve the image quality I wanted. I mean, it is a pretty good camera, but autofocus, high ISO and available light photography are not the highs from it. I needed to move on.
Panasonic GX1 + Olympus 12mm 2.0 @ 2.0f – ISO 160 – 1/3200
So talking about photography with my best friend (this damn lucky boy today works at Playboy Magazine) he told me that a certain company was making partnership with Leica glass. Yes, something inside my head instantly lighted up and it all made sense. I WANT A LEICA. That time I didn´t know Leica and Zeiss made photographic products, I was a lab geek, remember?
Panasonic GX1 + Summilux 25mm @ 1.4f – ISO 160 – 1/1300
So I started to research the most I could about Leica glass and the company making the trade with them. So I discovered Panasonic. Yes. My life brought me here, to Panasonic MFT cameras line up! I know that apparently Steve likes Olympus more but I never tried Olympus, but man, they don´t have the Leica partnership, J. I bought the GF1 and that was passion at first click and of course bought a summilux 25mm too.
That time I knew little about M cameras, just knew they were (and are) insanely expensive and that I would never, ever, ever buy one. I was so happy with my Panasonic/Summilux combo, it is a little taste and the closest I could get from a real Leica. From then to now I changed my GF1 for a GX1 and don’t regret that decision. It is very superior with faster autofocus and better high ISO capabilities. I’ve recently started trying third-party lenses with adaptor.
The major brand I use for my MFT camera is Canon FD. They are cheap and you can get great results. I just love my Canon FD 55mm 1.2f.
Panasonic GX1 + Canon FD 100-200mm 5.6 @ 16f – ISO 160 – 1/500
But, what about Leica?! Is it in that tinny dark area from my heart? Forgotten? NEVER! After discovering, about one and half-year ago, Steve’s Site, I made a decision, I will buy my Leica M with a summilux 50, so I started saving. Yes, I’m on budget and hope I can get my hands over the new Leica M next year!
PS.: Please, I hope my English isn’t that bad, it is not my native language.
Best regards guys!
I like your story. I am in a similar position as you. Check out my journey on youtube (look for user ikanagas).
First, those Canon FD lenses are optically very, very good. Don’t underestimate them. As others have stated – and as you will read elsewhere – it really is far less about the equipment and far more about the photographer.
Also, to the poster who spoke of select early FD lenses begin “radioactive,” yes, that’s true. My Olympus 55mm f/1.2 G-Zuiko is purported to be “radioactive,” too. But in truth, your body is absorbing more daily background radiation every day than these lenses give off, by a significant margin. And if you’re worried about cancer, it’s far more dangerous to use your cellphone more than a half-hour per day.
But back to taking pictures…
Here’s a wonderful article you might want to read >>
Let me give you a simple quote from it [speaking about today’s lens technology] >>
“…most lenses are quite good; virtually all are good enough; and the differences between the best ones are vanishingly small. But rather than causing us all to relax and stop arguing, the effect of the ever-diminishing differences in performances is to make us argue all the more.”
Or, as Joe McNally told me during a workshop I attended almost a year ago [when remarking about the Nikon D4 and D800]: “I have so many pixels now I don’t know where to put them all.” For Joe’s work, he said they’d hit the sweet spot for him with the Nikon D3s. He simply didn’t need anymore to accomplish his professional assignments for clients. At this point it is just about the manufacturers competing for sales.
So, maximum megapixels isn’t the answer, either, unless you’re Jim Brandenburg or Peter Lik.
Just keep shooting. Cheers!
I really like my Canon Fd lenses! I shoot them every time I can, specially when I need a very bright telephoto, as I get 110mm (equiv.) 1.2f with my Fd 55mm 1.2f mounted at my M43 GX1. I also own a 50mm 1.4f (a little softer at every aperture, but a lot more small and lighter than the 55mm 1.2f) and a 100-200mm, considered by many a dog lenses, but I quite enjoy it. About radioactive lenses, thanks for your comment, I didn’t know anything about it before Ozbaz’s comment. After a little research I found my lenses is not at the “radioactive fd lenses” list, looks like the 35mm 1.4f is the major “radioactive razor lens” from Canon Fd line up.
I read the article you send me, and I could not agree more. I know very clear about consumer behavior, and I know, besides my mind tells me I already have a great gear, my heart tells me I deserves a life time camera by my side, as photography is my main hobby, sure I wont sell my car/house to borrow it, or anything crazy. I have been considering buy a Leica M6, or any other film M, but I know would not engage it as I would with a digital camera.
I love your story. I enjoyed your band pictures, too. Happy new year (with your new Leica).
Thank you and happy new year!
I loved the story, more than the pictures…. I wish you get your Leica! go ahead, boy!
Hi Kate, thanks for reading and I’m glad you enjoyed my story.
Cheers and happy new year!!!
Great photos and biography. The photos on you website are very good especially the band shots. Fd lenses are great value. Just be careful some of the early ones are radioactive. Low level of course but from memory the 55mm 1.2 is one of them. The Heath effects from exposure to these lenses is not clear I would store the lens carefully and perhaps borrow a Geiger counter from work to check it out.
Thanks for reading. I am very happy you enjoyed my photos from site, I really like taking band pictures. Music plus photos! What a great combo, ham?
I never heard about this radioactive lenses, thank you very much for the tip. I will research hard about it.
I enjoyed reading your post. I like the photo of the tattoo. I might crop it just a teeny bit from the top left corners to remove dark area that is a slight distraction, and maybe some slight clarity in LR and you’re done. Don’t let the detractors get to you, keep shooting what you love and save for that M. If you have a friend who has and M9 or M8 see how you like working with a rangefinder, or get a used Bessa. It’s a great experience, but different from EVIL camera. Nice work!
I really like your work and posts!
Thanks for reading and for the crop tip, I ll try it later and see the result.
No one needs a Leica.
You can handle the Camera you own – so keep it.
It´s a Secret but I want to tell you: A lot of People want you to buy Things you don´t need.
You spend a lot of Time to work for that Money. Save that Time to improve you Photography.
It´s you Eye that makes the Picture – not a thousand Dollar Lens.
It is a nice advice!
Thanks for reading!
Touching story, Nilton, but really, Steve… a Daily Inspiration?
Is it just me, or are those photos…ummmmm…. mediocre at best? (to put it nicely)
I hope you enjoy better my photos at my next GUEST POST.
I am working hard at my photography skills and getting huge improvement with time, but it has a lot to learn with you guys!
sorry my english…
“…, but I have a lot to learn with you guys!… “
I enjoyed reading about how photography found you Nilton. I took some Physics courses in college years ago. Wish I could say that I loved it.
Thanks! I really like physics, I guess it helped me a little with photography.
Some times the photos are text illustration. I thought they helped tell his story.
Paxil and counseling might help. 😉
I really understand your feeling. When I was cyclist, the standard for quality and performance was Campagnolo. You could feel the difference. Once you’ve been exposed to real quality tools it’s hard to settle for less.
I hope to see you again on this page. I want to see what you see through that good glass.
You felt it a little .. hummm.. down? lol
Maybe, but hey, thanks for reading and I hope have good pictures in the future to post here!
I hope you have had time to hold the M to see how it feels in your hand. Like a bicycle, the camera is an extension to your body. It has to fit.
It is hand, eye, heart. It has to be pleasing to all.
I hold the Leica M (M8 and M9) kind of couple times, not as much as I should and need to go for this investment.
Maybe I will solve this by buying an used Leica M8 first.
Thanks for replying.
Hello my little Nilton!!!
I loved your article and I hope that soon you can take a picture on my city.
The last photo is my favorite.
Hi Nilton, I like your story and hope you have enough money soon to buy yourself a Leica.
I like the first and the last photo.
I am really excited about the day I can achieve my Leica gear! But I can say I really love my current Panasonic stuff!
PS: Thanks Steve for publishing my thoughts!!!