If I’d never seen the sunshine, I wouldn’t mind the rain

m. Miranda @ Nemesis
mua. Bekki Mitchell
sty. Zoey Hughes

#ilovemyleica.

M9, 50mm Summicron.

So I use the ilovemyleica hashtag alot (A LOT) so I’m guessing it goes without saying that I really do indeed love my Leica. Why? is often the question I get asked, I kinda of feel the photographs I create with it answer that question but perhaps that’s a little short sighted of me (and glib of me). So I’ve been thinking of a non fan boy / preachy way of explaining why it seems that the Leica M is the tool I’m happiest using.

Liiiines

Compared to many other cameras on the market the M9 loses when it comes to statistics and tech specs and all that dull fluff. To me that stuff is just noise and sales crap, I live with my cameras, day in day out. It’s how using the camera makes me feel, it’s how it allows me to connect with my subject, how it gets out of the way and just lets me create the photographs I want to create with it. I understand it and it’s ways and in return it rewards me with beautiful colour rendition and stunning clarity. It handles light so very beautifully, it inspires me to hunt out interesting light and interesting situations. It just gives me a connection and intimacy with my subject that all other cameras I’ve used can make a little more awkward. The M9 allows me to concentrate on signal (Zack Arias) the sheer simplicity of it, camera, 50mm lens, aperture, shutter dial, iso setting. No autofocus, no HDR, no auto, no super high iso, no zoom, no snake oil, no magic wand. It makes me work to create photographs and more importantly it makes me think. I helps me put something of myself into my work by simply letting me work.
So hopefully without sounding like a sales pitch that explains a little my feelings towards the M9. It’s no review, it’s simply a statement of my opinion of how I work with the Leica.
Perhaps another reason is how my assistant once put it “Perhaps it’s because it isn’t the accepted tool.” I kind of agree that despite using a 5D2, I really do get sick of the same looking images coming from the same cameras. Plus I’ve never been one to follow the crowd. The 5D2 is (at the moment) a vital tool in my bag, however it is gradually getting dusty.

Do I lust after the new M? To be honest not really, yesterday I shot at iso 1250 and the images are beautiful. Yes there’s noise but there is also feeling and emotion. The one and only thing about the new M I wish for is the shutter noise (sad I know)

Do I lust after a Monochrom? hmmmmmmmmm . . . . . . 🙂 I wouldn’t say no to one but for my work It couldn’t be a one or the other, I’d still use the M9 that has so captured my admiration.

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The trouble with cameras is . . . . . . (6 months with my M8.2)

Some of you good people may remember a post around 6 months ago about my dirty weekend with a Leica M8. If not then you may wish to go read that before carrying on with this one.

Well the fact of the matter is I never got her out of my system, a few astute folk who follow my work may have already noticed but that camera was rapidly followed by my now precious M8.2.

So why the rapid change of mind? Why the “it just ain’t right” “Oh it’s so right” split?

Perhaps I owe you an explanation. . . . . . .

My dirty little secret.

6 months with my precious.

Some of those you may have seen before, some are “none selects” others are just little pieces of what I see.

 

Warning – This is a long post so maybe go grab a cuppa before continuing . . . . . .

As you can see the Leica has been with me on many a job, I slowly tried it out and instantly realised why I had a need for this little German gem. I just get different photographs when I use the Leica than I do with the Canons, not better just different. Particularly on fashion jobs, I can just calm everything down from the high energy studio work and tuck into the corner creating a very different feel between myself and my subject. It becomes a much more personal process, just my subject, me and a little camera. Simple light & simple gear, leaving all the more room for emotions and feelings. It’s like that feeling of peace you get when slowly breathing out, well to me it is anyway.

I won’t lie, some of the joy in using the Leica is in the fact it’s such a simple tool. It makes you work for the photographs you create with it. That’s an important point, I tend to create photographs with the M, not just take them. Sure i’ve had a little Auto / Auto / f/8 preset focus action but it just isn’t my way of working. If you want a sharp well exposed photograph of something with the M then you better get focusing and thinking about how you want the image to look. Could I have taken the photographs I have with a decent compact? I guess but the fact is I wouldn’t have enjoyed the process as much and that would have probably shown in the final image. Sure the final image is all that counts but if I don’t enjoy and revel in the process then my love isn’t going to come through in that final image. My Canons are almost like extensions of my body in that I know them both inside out and back to front (literally) I don’t have to think about what I want them to do, my fingers know exactly how to translate my minds want into the camera.

“A poor craftsman blames his tools” as the saying goes, so does a good craftsman also accredit his skill to his tools? None that I know of. The best response to the question asked often of photographers is “I use my eyes”. But to a degree it is about the camera. It’s about how that camera (tool) makes you feel when you use it. Much like how a £7000 bespoke suit from Brioni is going to make you feel slighty different than a £35 supermarket version. Both do the same job yet only one is going to make you feel like James Bond (I admit that only one is going to be worth more than your car too but hey). A friend made a good point once, he’s a rather talented carpenter and he himself admits to buying more expensive tools knowing that he will enjoy using them much more. They feel nicer, look a darn sight sexier and more than likely out last the cheaper option.

So that’s one reason for sticking with the Leica, it’s a well crafted, beautiful feeling tool that engages me like no other camera. As a working photographer that’s an important factor when creating my work (provided that those final photographs are of the quality my clients and I demand). Speaking of my clients, they don’t care what I use or how I create the photographs they pay for (well within reason and legal parameters), mostly all they get to see is those final images. So long as those photos blow them away, I’ve done my job and the exchange of currency is finalised.

What about all those negatives I spoke about when first using the M8?

Well let me recap –

Shutter noise

Shutter release feel

ISO performance

40mm f2 cron performance

Colour reproduction & white balance (The UV problem)

Firstly the noise, yes the M8 is a noisy beasty when shooting. I swapped up to an M8.2 (which was Leicas little upgraded model with new shutter box, screen and something else I forget). It’s quieter, not ninja quiet but quiet enough for me. Plus the M8.2 has a natty discreet mode where the shutter doesn’t recock until you release the shutter button, good to dampen the sound a little. Oh yeah and it’s the only digital camera I’ve had that I don’t have a screen protector on (well actually the 1Diii doesn’t have one either but that’s because that thing is a tank anyway) The sapphire crystal glass is somewhat of a bourgeois addition but hey if it means I can sling the thing in my bag without fear of a scratch then count me in.

Next the shutter button feel, still a bit gritty but I’m getting used to it. I’ve heard that one can tinker with it to make it all smooth but I don’t really want to get the screw drivers out just yet.

ISO performance – Right, here’s my honest take. If you’re working in colour then 640 is your maximum working iso (and that is at a push) The work around is to accept that and either use fast lenses (more on this later) or switch to B&W. I’m more than happy shooting ISO 1250 knowing the final image is going to be monochrome. In fact my working settings are DNG (RAW) + JPEG where the JPEG is B&W so when I review my shots I see them in B&W.

The 40mm f2 summicron performance compared to on film – Well I’ve shot this lens with and without a UV/IR cut filter, with and without coded setting. Fact is yeah sometimes the corners are a bit soft wide open, but as a fashion/portrait photographer this doesn’t really bother me so much. I think the reason I’ve never really noticed this before on film is me shooting fast films so the grain covers some of that softness. This being said I’m never going to be the guy who wants clinically sharp and smooth photographs. I pretty much always throw grain over the top of all my digital work to give it the look I desire. Plus another factor of the apparent soft corners is down to how ridiculously sharp the centre is wide open. This is one thing that still amazes me about the M, even having said images sharpness is not the be all and end all, the resolution of the kodak sensor is ridiculous.

Colours – Firstly the magenta blacks problem. Well documented and known about, the easy fix is an UV/IR cut filter. Sometimes I use one, sometimes not, sometimes I wish I had used one but a little desaturation localised brush work sorts out most of the problem. Under good light the colours just sing, I’d say it runs into problems still when under “odd” lighting conditions. So mixed sources normally indoors, Marks simple solution? B&W 🙂

 

So to how the Leica managed to take ahold of my heart. Well for one thing it really does slow me down, so again on a job I can be rocking with the Canons and then just step back and simplify, breathe and zen out. It brings me closer to my subject, in a way it takes me from Fashion photographer to Portrait photographer.

Right, time for something of a 6 month review, in the opposite way of most reviews this is my opinion, no test charts, no tech specs, just how I feel the camera works for me. It isn’t a comparison of DSLR Vs rangefinder, I use both and probably always will, each has a place in my bag.

So to start my little review here are some photographs (seems a good starting point);

On set with the M8.2

A little moment during a fashion shoot. I loved the opposite of the blacks & whites

 

On the nature of daylight - Leica Masters Gallery

Selected for the Leica Masters Gallery – Time out from the studio lights, a moment of calm reflection.

 

Manchester NQ

A quick change of camera and pace during a location shoot.

A quick note on the last shot, see that black suit she’s wearing . . . . . . . . yeah I wasn’t using the IR cut filter and so you can see what the magenta problem can look like. As I say not a massive problem and fairly easy to correct but I wouldn’t want to do a whole shoot of correcting and obviously for fashion true colours are quite the big deal at times . . . . .

6 months down and the Leica is getting more and more shoot time on jobs with me, partly because I’m more confident in what it can give me, plus partly because I’m more able to command gaps within the shoots to step outside the normal shooting approach.

It’s my always and everywhere camera. As such it’s taken a beating, I’ve probably shot over 2000 frames with it (so to those thinking why not shoot a film Leica that’d be over 56 rolls of film which is probably about £300 plus days worth of scanning time). Here are a few more everywhere shots;

Love Your Hair

I did until it threatened to leave me.

Platform 2

The alternative selfie

Elliot Erwitt I am not

Dogs driving cars, what’s not to like

The Exchange

The Exchange – lost in translation

Leon nostalgia

Leon nostalgia

Down the pub

Down the pub

Dodging the raindrops

Dodging the raindrops

Deep in the forest

Deep in the forest

Oxford Street detail

Oxford Street detail

 

So it’s been around a bit. It’s a joy to use and I get a lot out of that enjoyment.

I promised a little review but to be fair this is a 4 year old digital camera. It’s still very expensive and it has it’s problems. I’ve had conversations with people asking how I find it and I feel kind of bad saying yeah I love it, the image quality can be amazing but I wouldn’t recommend they buy one. Fact is if you’re in the market for a new (or new old) digital camera there are much “better” options for you for the amount of money a basic M8.2 set up will cost. For example a decent used M8.2 will be around £1800 for the body, a bog standard no frills 35mm voigtlander lens will be maybe £300 used (a decent 50mm leica summicron £600) So we’re talking over £2000 for one camera and one lens. This is big money in the current camera market. I could go out and buy a used Canon 5Dmk2 and add a 35mm f2, 50mm f1.8 and 85mm f1.8 for around the same amount. How can I ever recommend someone go and buy the Leica right. However if that person says “I love shooting with rangefinders and want a digital experience with it.” Well now we’re playing a different game. The field is very very narrow. You can get the Epson r-d1 (very old tech but a lovely looking camera), the M8 or the M8.2 (or I guess you could argue to a point any film rangefinder and a good scanner plus a stack of film but lets not have that discussion). To me the M8.2 is an addition to my bag rather than a replacement. Could the Fuji X-Pro do the same job, to me not really, it isn’t a rangefinder. It’s autofocus for starters and much of the joy of a Leica is it’s simplicity of use, you set the aperture, you set the shutter speed, you focus the lens and you compose the photograph. If it sucks then you only have yourself to blame (it’s a brutal world). Ever tried manually focusing the 50mm f1.2 L lens handheld on any Canon? trust me even that super high tech auto focus system has it’s problems sometimes. Now take the even faster 50mm f/1.1 Voigtlander Nokton, twist it, see it’s focused, take the shot and move on. It really is that simple.

So here’s the crux, would I recommend the Leica M8.2? in answer, no & yes. It really depends who is asking and what they want it for. If you’ve never used a rangefinder before and this will be your only camera, I’d be on the no side of the fence. If you like the rangefinder experience but want an all digital experience, maybe. If you have a solid DSLR set-up but want to add a rangefinder for the joy of using one and for a different feeling while shooting, YES.

Using the Leica is like using no other camera, the photographs one creates with it seem more personal simply due to the fact that the photographer makes all the decisions. To me my subject is more closely involved in the process, they see more of my face when I shoot, I’m normally closer to them, the set up is very simple and as such a more intimate feeling is evoked. Not in an odd way just the process becomes (to me) more naturally collaborative. Behind the Canons I direct, behind the Leica I play more of a reactionary roll.

So to me, I love my Leica (as much as one can love material goods). It forces my mind and creative process down a different path and from that I’ve grown as a photographer.

The final take away from this non-review review, only you will know whether or not the M8 / M8.2 is right for you. No amount of reviews and forums and looking at data charts will inform you, sure use those to convince your other half but in reality if that Leica bug bites then there is only one way to find out (on the plus side if you change your mind they do hold their value fairly well 🙂 )

 

I’ll leave you with a few more photographs from the last 6 months;

Down the garden

Such a lovely greenhouse.

Light reading

The vitals for being on the road. Leica, iPad & Vogue Magazine.

No review is complete without a photograph of a cat or dog

No review is complete without a photograph of a cat or dog

Blue doors, blue eyes

Blue doors, blue eyes

A momentary rest

A momentary rest

 

 

James W Blind Swineing some coc

James W Blind Swineing some cocktails

Triptych piece from E&E

My go to for triptychs M8.2 50mm f/1.1

The trouble with cameras is . . . . . . . (Never meet your heros) – My weekend with the Leica M8

M8-Selfie

The oh so required self portrait in mirror with new camera.

 

Right, i’ll let you get it out of your systems, go on, tell me you thought I was immune from gear acquisition syndrome.

It’s no secret I have a thing for Leicas. Always have and always will. I’ve been loving shooting my film CL of late, the 40mm f2 is beautiful on that camera (which it was designed for) and with TriX or TMax loaded I’ve got some beautiful photographs. It’s a pleasure to shoot with, makes me think and work for the images I get.

 

Now it’s normally about this time of year that I drop a little cash on something new. A couple of years ago a gained the 5Dmkii, a year later the EF 85L, then last year the X100.

This year I came across a used M8 for sale at a good price. I’ve wanted to get my hands on one of these since they launched and finally thought “I can have the excitement and joy of using my CL but with all the benefits and easy of digital” right?

Well after a couple of days I’m sad to say wrong. 😦

The M8 is a beautiful camera and I’ve seen some lovely images from them, however despite all it’s beauty and heritage the sensor is showing it’s age. Here is the problem with modern digital cameras. Leica M cameras were always cameras for life, this is pretty much shown by the fact the M8 I used was cheaper than a used M7 film body from the same dealer. In fact I’d say my CL will be worth more than the M8 in another 10 years (maybe less). The problem is with producing the body of a camera to last forever in the modern “throw away” world. Digital technology is still in it’s teens and as such moving and changing still. Camera bodies are no longer the investment pieces in a kit.

So the M8,

It’s lovely no doubt. You know it’s a quality camera as soon as it’s in your hands. It’s straight forward and easy to use if you’re used to cameras that require you to do the thinking. Aperture, shutter speed, focus ring and shutter release. Zen like pretty much describes the user experience.

The problems start once you get shooting, firstly it isn’t as quiet as I’m used to Leicas being. No biggie but worth noting, it sounds kind of mechanical in operation. The shutter release is actually rubbish. Now I’ve never said this about a Leica but seriously it’s all crunchy, if I can really feel the half press points on my shutter release I freak out. Leicas should be smooth like butter, silky and perfect, not jarring and stabby. Again not a deal breaker but another con for me.

These things I could get over as I was finally shooting with a digital M, I enjoyed the experience, well until I started to look through the images. I’ll not go into huge detail but here’s the main issues I had;

White balance is shocking, Forget auto WB unless you like blue tinted shots. Sure I shoot RAW but still I do like my previews to be close to actual colours.

My 40mm f2 ‘cron was appalling wide open on the thing. Crazy soft corners, like lens baby soft. This was a BIG deal to me.

Really rather poor ISO performance once you get above the base of 160. At 160 it’s really great but other than that noise starts to dance everywhere.

I’ll admit I was blown away by the sharpness of the images even when unsharpened in Lightroom but as we all know, sharpness isn’t everything.

Colours, h’eh, nothing to really write home about. Apparently the Kodak sensor in the M8 was designed to replicate Kodachrome colours. I’m no expert on Kodachrome but I’m pretty sure it was better than what I got with the M8.

Here’s a few shots from the weekend to give you an idea of my cons. These we’re edited to make them acceptable to me so you won’t see my issues with colour or white balance;

 

Red checks out

Red wall photographed with Leica M8, 40mm f2. Colour gained by running this through Color Efex and the Kodachrome preset.

Window shot with M8

Window shot with M8. Film (ish) look? yes. Straight from camera? No.

Shadow play

This one shows the stupid soft corners I got using the 40mm f2 on the M8. Never had this on the CL

Just testing for bo-keys 🙂

Blus doors & stone work

A little street detail from the city this morning. Leica M8 40mm f2

Through the looking glass

British institutions, BT phone box and a Red Royal Mail post box.

So after seeing my shots, I thought i’d be fun to compare to those I took last year with the X100 (now don’t get silly on me but I may be about to announce something)

Window details, X100

A window shot from the X100. Creamy and lovely

Shooting the shooter

Cameras a dawn. A little window detail whilst wandering with the X100.

Budapest doorway, Fuji X100

Street / doorway details from Budapest last year. X100. Oh the colours!

X100 bike

Bike in Budapest shot with the Fuji X100

I love this shot, blue hour in Budapest. The X100 excels in low light.

Busking in the rain, York. X100

Singing in the rain York style. Weather testing the X100

River walk details

Love this shot too. A little moment from down by the river last year.

 

Okay, now I know which series of shots I prefer.

Remeber last year when I let the X100 go, I said I loved it but it wasn’t worth what I paid for it. Well the same goes for the M8, I love the thing despite it’s short comings, I’m pretty sure that one day I will invest in some proper Leica lenses and a full frame digital M but for now, I just can’t part with that much money for a camera which doesn’t create what I want it too. So where does that leave me?

Well the CL is staying for all my B&W film work (no doubt on that one). It’s small, light and handy to have in the bag on assignments.

Now coming back to the “the X100 isn’t worth what I paid for it”. Well it wasn’t worth what I paid for it when first released brand new, however . . . . . . it is worth what I may have just found one for used and just serviced with a stack of extras.

I’ll be honest and say I’ve missed the little Fuji, every time I look back through my catalogue of shots from last years 365 the stand out images are normally from the X100, it’s colour reproduction is amazing, I really got to grips with converting my B&W’s with it, plus the thing is sexy as. Why didn’t I go for the new X-Pro 1? simple because HAVE YOU SEEN THE PRICE OF THOSE THINGS?!? I don’t care if it makes coffee for me and drives me to my commissions, I’m not wandering the back streets of eastern european cities casually swinging over two thousand pounds worth of metal and plastic from my wrist. Plus it’s going to get me into the whole lens system problem again.

So the M8 is going back, the Olympus E-P2 20mm combo is going to be leaving my company and all being well the X100 shall be returning. HA! its like a camera yoyo between the Oly E-P system and Fuji X100 around here eh? Stay tuned I’m sure they’ll be more on this subject to be said in a week or so.

 

So as they say sometimes is best not to meet your heros, I’ve admired the M8 from afar for a good while, now sadly I see it as a once was, a classic of old.

 

2011 looking back in twelve photographs.

I figured I owe some kind of reflection post on the year gone as I’m still being coy on what I have planned for 2012. So here we go a short twelve shot review of 2011, some you’ve seen some you haven’t.
Oh yeah if you’re done with the emails the blog sends out when I post here now the 365 is over then just follow the subscriptions options at the bottom of the email.
So then, to the reflection of the year just gone –

Polaroid pro pack camera

The 365 project begins


Jan – New beginnings and old kit, the 365 begins and my head fills with possibilities of photographs to make.

Converse trainers holding hands

One of my favourite shots of the year probably


Feb – I enjoy the freedom of personal projects, I start experimenting with my kit selection, bike week seems to be a rather busy week for the blog.

Spring is in the air


Mar – I start to find my feet with some street photography as I play around with my camera of choice for personal work. I finally get some new prints made up for exhibition and sale.

Cragside house


Apr – I find myself enjoying the little Olympus PEN e-pl2 more and more. I begin my Rider Portraits series and really enjoy producing a personal series of shots.

A little Fixed gear evening ride.


May – Seems to be all about family, friends, bikes and a jump to the Fuji X100.

Motion and colour in Budapest

Motion and colour in Budapest


June – Vacation time with a great trip to Budapest, new print series, all about colour and form thanks to the X100

Feeling a little lost
July – Start to feel I’m losing my way with the business and the 365 is taking over all my creative energy. Time for a good long look at things and the future.

My emergency exit from everything.


Aug – Needing more time and space to think so more time on the bike. Got really mad with the Fuji X100 so traded back to an Olympus PEN . . . . . plus started playing with more film again.

Finally getting my game face back on and the hustle begins again.


Sep – Everything gets busy but I find my groove and get back to shooting commissions that I really want to shoot.


Oct – Making my time count, getting the business headed where I want it to be. Hustling more than ever and loving every second of it, long hours but sooo much fun.


Nov – Taking more of a reinvention to my portrait work rather than the refining I’d initially considered. Shooting stacks of film in various formats for personal stuff.


Dec – The completion of the 365 brings time for reflection and the realisation that 2011 has been a pretty great year for me. Feeling great about 2012 and all the possibilities it holds for me and my business.

So that’s just the barebones of my quick look back. The good, the bad, the navel gazing, the mistakes, the joy. Despite my previous postings about feeling a little lost in where to take the business, one of the big things 2011 has brought me is clarity in that respect. 2012 is about using that clarity, simplification and going a little more niche. Is that going to mean I decline work that I may have shot previously? possibly yes, but it also means I’m so much more into what I’m shooting and that will show in the work I produce.

Footsteps – A quick look back at 2011



Footsteps, originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 362 / 365

Time for a little reflection on the blog perhaps.
One of those lovely little scenes, a fleeting moment gone before it’s even been realised, an in-between, a side note, an off beat. These are the things I find fill the world with beauty. To compose and play with light, line and form within these moments is where I find myself.

Olympus PEN, e-p2, 20mm

So this is a little reminder to myself of a good little debate I had on here with some of you earlier this year.

I’ll probably do a full 2011 review early in the new year but for now here’s a few thoughts.

I like to look back over this years posts to see where my head was at various parts of this project. I’ve learnt a great deal from analysing my process and work methods. I’ve had personal break throughs and pushed through quite a number of barriers I’d seemingly had in my mind and in my career. To be honest I’m pretty happy with how things have gone in 2011. I’m still kicking myself in the rear for not pushing and hustling prior to now but I’m happy I finally am.
Quite a lot has happened this year, equipment changes, training, break throughs, realisations, contacts made, clients dropped, better clients found, publication.
On the equipment thing, this is one of the things I may go through in a post too. As a photographer I often find my inner geek bouncing against my inner creative. The geek desires shiny cameras with fancy functions and super awesome lenses and such, the artist just wants to go make photographs. This year has had me spending time listening to both voices and giving both slightly more freedom than before. The artist got to go shoot everyday without a brief or expectation, the geek got to play with a hell of a lot of new gear. Here’ a very brief list of the equipment which has been in or out of the bag this year;

Canon 1Dii, 1Diii, 85mm f1.2L, EF 24-105mm f4 L, EF 135mm f2 L
Olympus E-PL2, E-P2
Panasonic 20mm f1.7 (twice), 14mm f2.5 (pft!)
Leica D-Lux 4
Leica DigiLux 2
Fuji X100
Yashica MG-1, Mat 124G
Lordomat
Bronica ETRSi

Some of this is staying, some more may be going.
Oh and I have a little something else coming. Something rather special. Something I’ve desired for quite some time and I’d promised myself an end of 365 gift, this is that. More on that when it arrives.

What have a learnt from all this equipment?
Sometimes we get so caught up in the “how” and the “what with” that we lose the real question of “why?”.
Plus a whole lot of other lessons which I’ll save for later too.

All i’m going to say for now is it really doesn’t matter what you use just go enjoy making photographs. Just try and be true to your passion and your vision, don’t be sidelined by others vision or by marketing sparkle.

Reds & Blues – With some initial impressions of the Fuji x100



Reds & Blues, originally uploaded by bang*.

134 / 365

Another like yesterdays post, this time I really tried to keep it to two colours. I even managed to sneak a bike in too, the first on the Fuji x100 (which is lovely by the way).
Pretty happy how these two shots work together.

Fuji x100 (RAW, LR3)

So then, the Fuji x100? What’s that all about? we thought you had fallen in love with the Olympus PEN and micro 4/3?
I know, I know, I did really enjoy shooting with the PEN and would still recommend it to anyone wanting a great, portable interchangeable lens camera system. It has great image quality and that Lumix 20mm f1.7 is a peach.
So why look to change????? Well I’ve always had my eye on the new fuji, it’s no secret around here that I have a love for Leica, one day I’ll be shooting digital M’s with beautiful Leica lenses. There is just something about the design, the retro (classic) camera feel and look to them and the craftmanship that has gone into them. Now go look at a fuji x100, see where I’m coming from?
Another reason was the whole lens thing, I have a “compact” camera (or the “not my work cameras”) camera to carry with me at all times. I want this camera to let me enjoy my photography, keep things simple and just let me concentrate on my vision. One of the great things about the micro 4/3 (PEN) systems is the whole array of lenses you can choose from. However for me wanting to keep things simple and clean, this is it’s biggest downfall. Over the last month or two I’ve spent far too much time scouring the internet and camera stores looking at lenses and accessories and all that. It’s kind of been annoying (but fun all the same). It has however been a distraction, to me my camera system is my Canon equipment, I know it inside out and blindfold, I know which lens will do what and exactly which will be needed for each job. For my “other” camera I desire simplicity, I don’t want to carry extra lenses and viewfinders (the Olympus VF-2 is still epic by the way). I want one very good lens, with character and a camera which gives me great pleasure in using, something that makes me slow down and relish in the challenges and experiences of making photographs.
Enter the Fuji x100, one fixed 35mm f2 lens, beautiful classic styling, built in optical / electronic viewfinder (finally), large sensor, great build quality and really great image quality.
I’ve only had a couple of quick jaunts into the city with it so far, sure it has a few nuances which I’ll need to adjust for but guess what? I’m manual with quick and intuitive aperture and shutter speed dials, easy iso access. It’s bliss.
I can just go and create photographs. The 35mm lens is something I can relate to, on the PEN I had 28mm and 40mm, these just aren’t focal lengths i’m accustomed to. I shoot prime lenses, I can see in 35mm, 50mm, 85mm. I know what it will look like in the viewfinder. So many times with the PEN I saw the shot, got the camera up and was greeted with an unexpected frame. Sure I can just step in or out a bit, but it just wasn’t clicking (forgive the pun) with my vision.
On the clicking side, I mentioned it in most of my notes on the PEN but the thing makes a noise. It’s an odd little noise, kind of squelchy shutter, there is no way I’m pulling off candid with that camera. You take a shot and in most situations everyone near you knows. Now I’m not talking pervy stuff here just I like a certain invisibility to my work at times, my old Leica DLux 4 and DigiLux 2 were ultimately silent, so if a job called for that I had a tool to fit. Onto the Fuji x100, hello silent again.
So here’s to some more testing of the Fuji to see if it really is the perfect camera to keep me happy until the bank manager says I can go and spend enough money to buy a car (or two) on a Leica.

Shot Between a Rock & a Hard Place – Some initial thoughts on the Lumix 14mm f2.5



Shot Between a Rock & a Hard Place, originally uploaded by bang*.

Day 126 / 365

Headed back to the street of York for todays shot. I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands of a Lumix 14mm f2.5 to try. The 20mm f1.7 is quickly becoming one of my all time favourite lenses, it just has something about it wide open, I just fancied something a little wider to finish off my travel kit. To be honest I’m really wanting a 24mm equivalent (12mm) but no-one makes that lens (yet) so the 28mm equivalent (14mm) had to do.
I’ll pop some thoughts up on the blog to add to my ongoing Oly PEN review later on.
As to todays shot, I’ve seen this before so figured it was time to shoot it.

Olympus PEN (E-PL2), 14mm f2.5

Initial Thoughts & Feelings on the Panasonic Lumix 14mm f2.5

First off this thing is even smaller than the 20mm, it’s a whole lot lighter too. The build feels the same but it has a smaller “glass” frontage, so to me it doesn’t look as nice on the camera.

On the PEN – Focus is lightening quick and whisper quiet so it that respect it’s better than the slightly slower to focus and tiny bit noisier 20mm. So I guess for the video shooters this is a big plus.
The field of view is (as expected) wider, so it should make a good street, landscape, travel lens. To be honest the 20mm is already a good lens for all those purposes, but for a travel kit it’s nice to have something a little wider (and with this lens you won’t notice it in your bag as it takes up minimal space).

More to follow once I get some shots in the bag