Here is a video series that I came across some time ago, but I was recently reminded of it.  It is a presentation by Ken Henderson, and he focuses on traditional techniques that are still appropriate today.  Some of his methods can be simulated in Photoshop, but there is something special about the craft of creating something in camera, particularly if you do not have the luxury of an LCD screen on the back of your camera to verify your results.

Leica and the Wedding

July 6, 2009

Leica M4/Leica Summicron 2/35mm ASPH on Fuji Superia Reala 100 (mono conversion)

Leica M4/Leica Summicron 2/35mm ASPH on Fuji Superia Reala 100 (mono conversion)

I love shooting weddings. For many photographers, it is the one thing they will not photograph. It is not easy, but for me, the rewards far out weight the pressures of the big day. I love the reactions I get from my clients the first time they view the images of their wedding day. I realise the responsibility I have, to capture the special day just as it was. All the expressions, the mood, the quirks, and I like to do it all quietly and unobtrusively.

Enter the rangefinder camera. I use Leica cameras; a IIIa, M3, M4, and M6 to be exact. They are small, silent, reliable, light, and discreet. Simply put, they are the best cameras that I can use to make the photographs I love. The lenses are small, and of the highest quality. They are beautiful to hold and the controls are as simple as it gets. I can hand hold a Leica with a 50mm lens attched and get consistantly sharp results, and with fast f1.4 lenses, that affords me great versatility. The viewfinders are bright and clear, and when I press the shutter, the view does not black out. I can use all of my cameras without batteries, even the M6 if I need to.

It is this minimalistic approach that allows me to focus on my photographs and my clients. I am in full control of the camera, rather than fighting with the technology and wondering whether the camera is guessing correctly. This is why I don’t need an LCD on the back of the camera. I know where I focused, I know that the subject is exposed and not the background, and the less time I spend looking at a little screen, the more time I take shooting the events around me. Because at weddings, you just never know what can happen, and that is a big part of the attraction for me.

Leica M3/Leica Elmarit 2.8/90mm on Fuji Superia Reala 100

Leica M3/Leica Elmarit 2.8/90mm on Fuji Superia Reala 100

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Voigtlander Nokton 1.1/50mm

Looks like Scott over at Mainline Photo has just received his first shipment of the new Voigtlander 50mm lens, which sports a maximum aperture of f1:1.1. A few images are showing up on the web and so far it looks to be a good little lens. Now I say little, and it is by SLR lens standards, but really this is large for a rangefinder lens. It is not as big as the Voigtlander 1.2/35mm but it still blocks about 1/8th of the viewfinder on an M series camera. That’s no big deal, and an optional vented lens shade can be purchased to help with visablitly. That is the pay off if you want or need a super fast lens.

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Optional vented hood

You can purchase the lens here on Scott’s website. I have no affilliation with Mainline apart from purchasing gear from them. I am always impressed with their product knowledge and service, and I like to recommend people who make things easy for me.

It is hard not to compare this lens with the Leica Noctilux 1/50mm, and some have said it is a close match is some regards, but the new Nokton is around $10 000 cheaper than the German beast. Now that sort of money can buy a lot of film.

Olympus EP-1 Preview

July 5, 2009

I had a chance on Saturday to have a little play with the new micro 4/3rds camera from Olympus.  This camera has been much anticipated because it is the first affordable compact digital camera with interchangable lenses that can match and exceed some of the current model DSLR cameras.  These compacts were very popular in the heyday of 35mm film.  So what are the alternatives?  The Leica M8 or the Epson RD-1.  Well the latter is only released to the Japanes market however grey market cameras are available on the web.  This camera has received a mild level of popularity amongst rangefinder enthusiasts, but the lack of local support makes it a risky purchase.  Leica may well be regarded as the pinnacle of 35mm film cameras, however the digital M8 certainly has it detractors.  It is not cheap, and whilst Leica has never been an entry level camera, people saw the M film cameras as an investment.  I happily shoot a Leica IIIa crica 1937 with a 15mm lens attached for specific shots when covering weddings, but what is the longevity of the digital M’s going to be like?  I for one would much prefer to gamble $1 400 on a digital camera (and get a lens with) than $10 000 on an M8 when I know an full framed M9 is not too far off.  The sensor in the Leica is far from state of the art, and Leica is going to have to change their marketing strategy if they are going to keep up with the big boys in the digital world.  We are used to seeing a model change with Leica every eight years or so, but Canon and Nikon have set the trends and turn over needs to be every two years or so.

So what about the Panasonic Lumix G1?  Whilst it shares many of the advantages of the new EP-1, Panasonic missed a big marketing opportunity, in my opinion, by playing it safe with a traditional style DSLR body.  It has proven image quality which we should also see in the Olympus.  So how about the lenses?  The EP-1 comes standard with a 14-42mm zoom lens, and a 17mm pancake prime lens.  The beauty of these micro 4/3rds cameras, and why I feel that they will see alot of wide spread popularity, is the ablilty to take a myriad of different lenses from different manufacturers including the Leica M mount.  Different adaptors are required which are already available, and we have seen this working well with the Lumix G1.

I didn’t have the opportunity to take any shots, as the battery was dead but what really impressed me was the weight.  The camera wasn’t light and tinny, nor was it cumbersome.  It felt solid in the hand, well constructed.

I guess I would already have my deposit down if the EP-1 had a viewfinder, but if it had a viewfinder, it wouldn’t be able to take the lenses I love. Hmm, vicious cirlcle.  I am happy enough using external viewfinders and I guess I will have to see what the Olympus offering is like, after all, the zoom lens doesn’t interest me. The external viewfinder comes standard with the 17mm pancake lens.

I’m sure that this won’t be the last compact micro 4/3rds camera arrive, so it is exciting times ahead for consumers, and professionals who require something small, comparitively light, and discreet.

Colour With The Holga

July 5, 2009

Holga 120s on Fuji Pro 400h

Holga 120s on Fuji Pro 400h

Just got my first roll of colour shot throught the Holga back from the lab. I had a play around with some double exposures and thought this one looked interesting. Kind of a ‘Terminator 2″ walking throught the fire look!

Holga 120s on Kodak T Max 400

Holga 120s on Kodak T Max 400

I love shooting Fuji Provia 100f with my Leica glass. The results are super sharp. I have spent more money than I should have purchasing some of the finest lenses made for my cameras. I love shooting medium format with the Hasselblad, especially black and white. The tones are so creamy and detail is amazing. Again, they don’t give the Zeiss glass away. So I was a little reluctant to take the Holga up to the counter and hand over my cash, even though it was only fifty bucks. After all, that is five rolls of HP5 I could be buying. Would I like this camera, with a plastic shutter, plastic body, plastic lens. In fact the only thing not plastic on this camera is the Gaffers tape that I have strapped all over the it to prevent the light from leaking through the not so light proof casing. One shutter speed, although I don’t exactly know what it is. One aperture, which they say is about f/11. So I threw in a roll of Kodak T Max, which has great exposure latitude, and hoped for the best.

Well I can say that I really like the results that I have acheived with the Holga so far. Sharp it isn’t. I would describe it as dreamy. Since I applied the Gaffers tape, I am getting results that are more consistant but I am told some people think the light leaks are part of what make the Holga experience so enjoyable. I’ll pass on the leaks.

So far, the ride has been fun, and next, I think I might try the panaromic Holga. I hope to post some pics in the not too distant future.

Wow! Check out David Wood’s DR5 site here. I haven’t had the chance to try this out, but I will just as soon as I get the chance. HP5 @ 1600 ASA with all the quality of frames shot @400 ASA….sounds exciting. Just shoot the film, send it to DR5, and you get back b&w chromes with the option of high res scans.

L-Camera TV

July 1, 2009

Here is a short video from the recent International Forum Member Meeting of the L-Camera forum.  Is Leica going to be making an R10?  You’ll have to watch the video to find out.  And about that full frame M9……….