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            Showing posts with label Leica. Show all posts
            Showing posts with label Leica. Show all posts

            Tuesday, November 27, 2018

            Unboxing: Leica D-Lux 7

            The new Leica D-Lux 7. The previous version isn't the D-Lux 6, which would be too logical, but the Tip 109. I took the Type 109 with me to Hong Kong a few years ago and had a great time. How do I like the new version? It's not a huge difference (same lens, same body) but it's still a capable camera. Watch me unbox and talk about the significance of the premium point and shoot market. Is this segment of camera still important to you?

            Saturday, November 24, 2018

            Vintage Unboxing: Leica M5 50th Jahre/Anniversary Edition

            This is my latest video unboxing of a 43 year old camera, the 50th Anniversary Edition Leica M5. Actually, I have two of them. The most interesting thing about this unboxing isn't the camera itself, since we've all seen the M5 either in person or in pictures. No, the interesting thing is to see what you actually got with a brand new Leica back in 1975. Most used Leicas don't come with all the paperwork, including the warranty card (remember those?). Thanks for watching and happy shooting!


            Tuesday, June 20, 2017

            Leica M10 vs Fujifilm X-T2 vs GFX 50S for High ISO Performance

            The Leica M10 is very special. It's also very expensive. Of all the cameras I review, I get the most criticism from both fans and critics. The one thing we can't argue over is the final image quality. It is what it is. Although I rarely do back-to-back comparisons between various cameras, I was curious about the new sensor in the M10. I knew the new 24MP sensor in the Leica M10 has better higher ISO sensitivity, but how much better? It's definitely better than the older M240, but how about against the latest Fujifilm sensors, both the APS-C and the medium format sensor? I decided to shoot an impromptu portrait session with Marcello at Push Pull Café in Vancouver. Here is a quick indoor natural light comparison between the Leica M10, Fujifilm X-T2 and the GFX 50S at ISO 3200. Can you tell which sensor is which?

            Saturday, January 21, 2017

            Believe in Film: The Leica M-A with 35mm Summilux in Hong Kong

            Cinestill 800T
            Film photography. Is it dead? Not dead. Dormant? No, it's actually growing. Will it ever be what it was? Probably not. Digital photography is here to stay, but so is film photography. There will always be a niche market for any sub-section of any hobby, but film photography wasn't a hobby. It was the primary way we captured images for over 100 years, so film isn't disappearing any time soon. One reason is because of the hardware. How many film cameras exist today? In the hundreds of millions for sure. Lenses, the same. Since the 1930s, film cameras and lenses were produced for the mass market, as well as for the technical and professional markets. Many of these cameras were built like tanks, meant to last for generations. Yes, film photography and film cameras are here to stay... for a while still. It will never be a mainstream product, but it's more mainstream than people think. Many think of iconic European manufacturers of high quality film cameras who have either disappeared or moved on to making digital products exclusively. There is one major exception. Yes, Leica Camera AG of Wetzler Germany.

            Friday, July 15, 2016

            Review: Leica M-D Typ 262

            Leica M-D with 35mm f/1.4 Summilux. 1/250th sec f/4 @ ISO 400
            Like many photographic tools created by this iconic German manufacturer, the Leica M-D Typ 262 is polarizing. You either love it or hate it. In my recent YouTube video review, commenters were either mad at me for misunderstanding this 'purist camera', or thought I was crazy to review such an expensive camera that lacked basic digital features. Yes, without an LCD or an EVF, there's no way to preview the image in-camera on the Leica M-D. Isn't that the whole premise behind digital photography, instant preview? It's at least a major advantage of shooting digital over film. However, with every technological advancement there's often an unforeseen crutch. Having the ability to view images instantaneously has made a previously confident film photographer neurotic with constant chimping and second guessing one's photographic prowess. The solution? Remove the screen. Does it help? Yes and no. What about the price: Is this screen-less Leica M body worth $6,000 USD body only? Again, the answer is yes and no. The big question is, did it make me a better photographer? Totally. Did I have fun shooting it? A definite yes. Why? Das Wesentliche or 'The Essentials'

            Wednesday, February 10, 2016

            The Leica SL Review: Love or Hate, or Both?

            Leica SL with 35mm f/1.4 Summilux

            I love the new Leica SL. Ok, I didn't have to actually buy it by selling my car and half my belongings to get it, so my opinion is slightly skewed. However as a camera reviewer I am obligated to to try my best to give an unbiased opinion based on my user experience as well as an understanding the current market place and where it is going. First of all the market is going mirrorless. Brands like Nikon and Canon who laughed at the idea that the future was mirrorless are now clamouring to enter the mirrorless market for the mid-level photographer. The market is also going higher end since the smartphone camera has decimated the sub $500 point and shoot market (except for waterproof and action cameras). The Leica SL is definitely mirrorless and it is premium. It's built like a tank, it has the highest resolving electronic viewfinder, it's weather-sealed, it's autofocus (unlike the Leica M system), and it's full-frame. This camera should be loved by everyone, but it's not. At $7450 USD body only (as of February 2016), many are up in arms about the SL. I've gotten more hate comments on my Instagram and YouTube comment section for reviewing this camera than any other camera I've reviewed in the past 4 years. Does this camera deserve the angst that it's receiving from many? Let's find out.

            Sunday, January 31, 2016

            Firmware Update Review: Leica T vs Leica T

            The firmware update is the future. Fujifilm made a slick marketing video for firmware version 4.0, treating it like a new camera release. Leica didn't go that far, but it was treated as an event and it should. Like Fujifilm, Leica's camera cycle is slower than other major manufacturers so the firmware update is the best way to keep a camera up-to-date and competitive within their own eco-system as well as the competition's. The Leica T has had at least 3 major firmware releases, as well as smaller in-between touch-ups. We are currently at firmware version 1.4.3, and I hope there are plans for more. On my most recent Youtube video, I tested the latest firmware against the previous version. Here are the most noticeable changes:

            Sunday, January 3, 2016

            Shooting with the Leica M and D-Lux in HK

            Back in October John Lehmann of the Globe and Mail met me in Hong Kong to shoot some YouTube videos. For one of the projects we decided we wanted to shoot with Leica cameras, so we both approached our contacts at Leica North America and got what we wanted. John went with the M Monochrom Typ 246, an excellent choice. It made sense for him since he already owns an M240 and a few lenses (28mm, 50mm, 90mm); but which camera would I choose? After much thought, I decided to borrow the Leica D-Lux Typ 109. Why the D-Lux? It is a perfect camera for travel because it's compact, light, feature-rich and powerful. Check out my full review with pictures on my YouTube channel here:

            Thursday, August 14, 2014

            Leica Akademie Vancouver: Guest Speaker

            Taken w/ Ricoh GR. 1/180th f/5.6 @ ISO 500. Edited in CS5 & Photoscape. @loiterbench (IG) in Chinatown, Vancouver.

            Since starting my Youtube series, I've been getting emails from people asking if I run any workshops on street photography. As you may know, when Eric Kim was in town in Vancouver, he invited me to audit his 3 day street photography workshop and I had fun watching someone formulating how to teach this unusual photographic 'art form'. Eric insisted that I should run my own workshops and I thought a good way to start was accepting the privilege of being the guest speaker and instructor for the upcoming Leica Akademie in Vancouver next week.

            Thursday, June 12, 2014

            Yes The Leica T Also Takes Great Pictures!

            Leica T with Vario-Elmar T 18-56mm @ 23mm. 1/400th f/8 @ ISO 400. Main Street, Chinatown, Vancouver.

            Is it wrong to care about how a camera looks? If that's all you care about, then yes. But we are creatures of aesthetics and symmetry. That's why we are attracted to beautiful things in both nature and things made by hands. How a camera looks and feels can affect how we feel, which in turn affects how we shoot. Shooting with a rangefinder feels very different to me versus shooting with an SLR. Shooting film or instant really feels different versus shooting digital. My mood affects my shooting pattern.

            Leica successfully plays on this concept of beauty and style (along with function) with the new Leica T. They spent a lot of time and energy marketing this camera as such, including a 45 minute video of an employee hand polishing a T body. It's Audi design. Does all this effort in making this camera sexy successful? Yes it is. Wherever I walk around with this camera, people want to look at it, touch it, play with it. Even at Eric Kim's recent street-photo workshop in Vancouver, everyone wanted to hold and play with the T over any of my other review cameras. Moreover, if you want attention, buy the Leica T, it's worth every penny. However, do you also want to take great pictures?

            Friday, May 16, 2014

            Preview: Is the Leica T the Future for ILCs?

            Change is strange. Some embrace it, others hate it. Some don't mind change, but it depends on what and how much. There are some things that are best untouched, while others need to change or else they will disappear (think of Latin as a language). What is the future of interchangeable lens cameras (ILCs), especially the mirrorless market? DSLRs have a general layout and design familiarity between the brands (due to certain functional restrictions and preferences), but the mirrorless camera ergonomics, shape and interface is pretty much wide open. Manufactures have been testing the waters, some with more radical designs, while others have taken the more conservative (even retro) route. 

            When Leica announced an upcoming and all new ILC system, we all pretty much thought we could guess how it would look and function. It would be a cross between the recent X series cameras (X1, X2, X-Vario) with a splash of old school M styling (we were all hoping for an integrated EVF though). This is what we came to expect from a reasonably traditional and conservative camera brand. Unlike Sony or Canon who could afford to have a camera or two flop, Leica is a much smaller company who can not afford to make a mistake. It would only make sense to produce a camera that was built on previous successes. Why take the risk? Then Leica announced and revealed the all new Leica T...

            Tuesday, May 6, 2014

            Leica T versus Fujifilm X-E2: Modern Art vs Retro Cool

            Taken with Ricoh GR @ Matchstick Coffee in Chinatown, Vancouver. 1/250th F/5.6 @ ISO 800. Window light only.

            I got the email from my local Leica rep. It was coming. Yes, the all new Leica T was on its way. The week before, I almost flew down to L.A. for the worldwide release of Leica's newest interchangeable lens system. Was it going to be M43, APS-C, full-frame? Most guessed it would be APS-C, but what would it look like? Would they go with the X styling (X1, X2, X-Vario), or more M styling? Would it have a built in EVF or OVF? So many questions... Then the Leica T was finally released... what the?

            It was nothing like what I expected. It was very different, and a very bold departure from what we were expecting from a very traditional camera brand. Was I disappointed? Nope. Confused? A bit. Excited to try it? Yes!! I watched the crazy 45 min video showing how each Leica T is hand polished (with German labour!) and Steve Huff's enthusiastic first impressions video. Clearly this camera is well built, but can it shoot? More importantly, is it good for a street-style photographer? It was time to test Leica's latest, greatest camera.

            Tuesday, April 8, 2014

            Paparazzi versus Street Photographers: What's the big difference?

            Taken with my Ricoh GR. My paparazzi buddy Nigel, sitting, waiting, stalking? 1/1500th sec F/4 @ ISO 400.
            Spring has arrived in Vancouver and my favourite neighbourhoods are filling up with people and noise and life. The nicer weather doesn't just affect foot-traffic, but more film crews are shutting down streets and attracting spectators, especially the paparazzi. I've been bumping into a few of them lately, but my favourite is a fellow by the name of Nigel (here's a picture of him on my Instagram). He's a really nice guy and always willing to talk to me. As I look at him and then look at myself, I wonder what the difference between what he does and what I do, photographically and socially. Are we so different? Are we so similar?

            Monday, December 30, 2013

            Random Portraits of Models with Leica X-VARIO in Shinjuku East, Tokyo

            Leica X-VARIO @ 32mm. 1/400th sec F/4.5 @ ISO 400. Shot RAW, processed in CS5 & Photoscape. Shinjuku West. From left: Wendell, Diane, Leo

            I know the Tokyo-X-VARIO project is officially finished and so I shouldn't be posting any more X-VARIO images unless I have a reason to. Perhaps I'm writing an article about street photography or a how to series, and these 'unused' images fit the article? Well, I'm not. I just love this series of images I took of these models (Wendell, Diane and Leo) and I couldn't see myself using it anytime soon so I thought I would post them now. I also thought it would be a waste to use these pictures on Instagram since there's so much detail. Even the above pic has been reduced from a 23mb RAW file down to a 1.9mb jpeg... I know, it's a shame. I posted a picture from this series during my Tokyo-X-VARIO project here, but I had extra images I wanted to use later...so here's the rest of them...enjoy!

            Thursday, December 26, 2013

            Tokyo-X-VARIO: Final Look @ Leica X-Vario

            X-VARIO @ 31mm.   1/15th sec F/4.1 @ ISO 400.  JR Yamanote Line, Tokyo.

            Playing with a test camera in a city like Tokyo is a lot of fun... but all good things come to an end. I'm finally back home and now starting the daunting task of going through all my pictures. When you're gone for a month you tend to take a lot of pictures... thousands in fact (2583 to be exact, minus film rolls and iPhone pics). To get a good idea of a camera's characteristics of capturing an image, you need to do more than chimping (a sneak peak at back LCD screen). You need to open up the files and take a good look, trying to find specific qualities (not just resolution and colour accuracy) and image distinctiveness that make the pictures stand out. I did so with the Leica X-VARIO and I've come to appreciate the camera and the images I was able to create...

            Tuesday, December 24, 2013

            Tokyo X-VARIO: Shooting Light in the Dark

            Leica X-VARIO @ 28mm zone focused. 1/60th sec F/3.5 @ ISO 1600. RAW image converted in CS5 and cropped and adjusted in Photoscape. Shot in Sugamo, Tokyo.

            I love shooting at night. I know technically its more difficult, but if you can get the exposure right, and you know how to shoot RAW and adjust later in post production, you can capture amazingly moody images of typically normal scenes. The reason? Light. Unlike daylight, where the light is coming from a single point, or on a cloudy day where the light is diffused and flat (and often boring), night allows for multiple light sources, direction, colour and shadows. But how can you use this to your advantage when shooting?

            Tokyo-X-Vario: Shooting Bikes in Shibuya

            X-VARIO @ 28mm zone focus. 1/500th sec F/7.1 @ ISO 1600.

            I know the X-VARIO was never designed to be an action camera...and that's ok. But it doesn't mean we can't use it to capture action. That's exactly what I did when I decided to shoot bike riders in action in the trendy fashion district of Shibuya. This area is known for it's crazy pedestrian crossing (remember that scene in Lost in Translation when Scarlett Johansson crosses the busy intersection with the big screen of the dinasaur?) and lots of fashion shops, like the famous 109 and 0I0I (Marui Marui) buildings. I noticed something else: lots of super-cool cyclists!! 

            While my wife went into the shops, I hung out on the streets to take pictures of guys (and gals) whipping past on their fixies, single-speeds, mamacharis, and geared bikes of all sizes, colours, shapes and styles. I came back a few more times just to take pictures, and you'll notice lots of pics from the exact same location of cyclists on my Instagram account. The point is I was shooting with two cameras that you would never associate with shooting action: Ricoh GR-D IV and Leica X-VARIO. Neither have blazing fast autofocus, nor do they have a true telephoto focal length, two things people think you need to shoot action. You don't. I've already posted pics of bike action with the Ricoh GR, so here's some with the X-VARIO...here we go!!

            Friday, December 20, 2013

            Tokyo-X-VARIO: Portrait of a Photographer

            X-VARIO @ 50mm. 1/500th sec F/7.1 @ ISO 1600. Shibuya Crossing. 

            I saw the coolest guy coming out of a taxi. He was a taller Japanese fellow, probably about my age and he was adjusting his scarf as he was readying himself to shoot with his super awesome leather-cased twin reflex camera. I wanted to introduce myself to him, but I was so busy looking for my business cards and scrambling with all my camera equipment, he started walking away and disappeared into the busy Tokyo crowd. I frantically chased after him into the Shibuya crossing, wondering which of 5 directions he could have gone to... I chose the North-East corner and headed that way but it was too late. He was long gone. 

            But wait! What do I see? Another cool photographer. Completely different looking but similar. The same coolness and determination and in the zone, ready for the next great shot. The first thing I did was show him the Ricoh GR-D IV I was shooting with and asked if I could take a picture of him with my GR with his GR (image posted on my Instagram). Then I decided to shoot with the Leica X-VARIO but at 50mm equiv. This is when I really appreciated having the X-VARIO. The Ricoh GR is a great point and shoot, but not great for a proper portrait. The 50mm angle of view has the right distance to subject and the right amount of compression for a waist-up portrait.

            Sunday, December 15, 2013

            Tokyo-X-Vario: Sitting and Waiting at 50mm

            Leica X-VARIO @ 50mm equiv. 1/500th sec F/5.1 @ ISO 1600, manual focus. RAW file, converted & cropped in CS5 and Photoscape.

            I love it when I find a great background to use as the foundation of my image. It's like my canvas. Once I find it, I test focus, exposure, and then I just sit and wait for the right moment to come my way. It's like fishing in a way I guess... I'm fishing for people...you never know what you'll get. 

            Sunday, December 8, 2013

            Tokyo-X-Vario: Shooting with a 50mm Lens

            Leica X-Vario at 50mm equiv. 1/1250th sec F/5.6 @ ISO 400. Shot RAW, edited in CS5/Photoscape and cropped

            I find many people use their zoom lenses as a way to crop their image, and in some instances, it makes sense. You can't get closer, nor can you back up. But I find many don't really understand what a focal length does to the actual relationship between the subject and the foreground and background. When you zoom in, you are compressing the image, not just creating bokeh. As a general rule, a street photographer doesn't need a 70-200mm lens. That's for paparazzi. Between 28 to 50 is a good range for street photographers, even though a bit above or below this range is great for specific effects as well.