Black and White Wedding Photography – Leica M9

Coventry Wedding Photographer
Coventry Wedding VenueThe Saxon Mill, Warwick

Anna & Vici’s Wedding Photography – January 25, 2014

Yesterday I had the pleasure of providing Anna and Vici’s wedding photography for their wedding in Warwickshire, UK. The day started for me at the Coventry wedding venue, The Saxon Mill, where we had the ceremony and wedding breakfast once everyone had arrived. Later we moved onto the Warwick Arms Hotel in Warwick where the evening guests joined us.

Anna and Vici had opted for my Black and White Wedding Photography Package so I was already super happy before the day had even started. I tend to see all my photos in B&W and as shadows and highlights and use my cameras in B&W JPEG mode (JPEG fine + RAW so have the colour negative if required). Black and white photography lets me use light as a major part of each image as there is no distraction of colour. B&W photography also places more emphasis on texture, shape and form and this simplicity helps viewers relive the memories of the day.

Leica wedding photography captured in black and white tones gives my clients a set of timeless looking film like images. The B&W tones really suit my documentary wedding photography style. I like to photograph by available light where possible as I can see my images more easily however if the light levels are too low I will use additional artificial lights to mimic the effect of sunlight. I then balance the ambient light and strobe lights in camera to get the desired look and exposure.

Yesterday was a typical British winter day being mostly overcast with heavy rain at times. Both venues were dark inside so I knew I would need additional lighting. New for 2014 I used a combination of studio lights and speedlights to increase light levels.

A quick mention and a huge thanks to Gary at Lencarta UK for resending me two studio lights next day delivery on Thursday January 24, 2014 after the first package was lost in the post. I can highly recommend the Lencarta light products. I have used a few different models and all are very well made and offer excellent value for money. They can be described as a UK equivalent of the US Paul Buff Alien Bees in terms of cost but that is where the comparison ends. Technically they are far superior and the build quality is superb.  Gary also offers exceptional customer service which is priceless in situations like these!

My Wedding Photography Camera Bag

If you follow me on Flickr or Facebook you will know I have quite a few lenses to choose from for both the Leica M9 and Nikon D800 cameras. I always take two camera bodies and tend to have one camera with a wider lens and one camera body with a short telephoto lens. I found in the past that if you take too many lenses you miss photos as spend more time trying to decide what lens to use than composing or anticipating a photo. I try to learn from each wedding so to keep improving year on year and with each shoot. As a result, yesterday I packed the camera gear with an approximate usage in brackets –

Leica M9 body (40%)
Zeiss ZM Biogon 21mm f2.8 (90%)
Voigtlander Nokton CV 35mm 1.2 ASPH ii (10%)
Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 (0%)

Nikon D800 body (60%)
Nikkor 35-70mm f2.8 (80%)
Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s (15%)
Nikkor 135mm f2.8 Pre-AI (5%)

The Nikon D800 DSLR with the 35-70/2.8 covered most situations and was the most used setup on the day. I tend to use the D800 for fast action photography, low light photography (>ISO 800) and group photos where I may want to crop yet retain a large file size. I use the Leica M9 for reportage style photography working close to my subjects, often in tight spaces with a wide angle lens as people notice the smaller Leica camera less so I can capture natural looking expressions more easily and within a meter of my subject.

If I take off my Leica hat for a moment to give honest non-bias feedback, the most enjoyable lens to use was the Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s for night photography. It gives subjects a magic glow yet it still sharp if you zoom in on the images. In second place was the CV 35/1.2 for the same reason. Both lenses render photos beautifully at f1.2 and seem to capture more light that visible with the naked eye. A joy to use for night photography without flash.

Warwick Wedding Venue - Warwick Arms Hotel

My most enjoyable part of the day was the downtime between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast. No pressure and a time to play and get creative. Working in the very ‘cosy’ confinements of The Saxon Mill and using an off camera studio light strobe as my light source I was able to mingle amongst the guests with the Leica M9 + Zeiss ZM 21/2.8. I used the single source of light to illuminate my subjects all around the room working the camera settings to get the desired exposure. I like high contrast black and white photography and the artificial light source gave me a similar look to low afternoon sun. A great feeling as the rain battered the windows from outside and thunder rumbled overhead.

Zeiss ZM 21mm f2.8 Biogon
Zeiss ZM 21/2.8 Biogon Wedding

Here is a wedding portrait looking over the water at the Saxon Mill

Coventry Wedding Venue - The Saxon Mill

As with every wedding I wish I had done a few things differently but on the whole a great start to the 2014 wedding photography season. I was pleased with my choice of equipment and my new Zeiss ZM 21/2.8 was a worthy addition to my camera bag complementing the 35mm and 50mm focal lengths nicely.

A separate wedding photography gallery post will follow once I have gone through all the images. A big thanks once again to Anna and Vici for the invite and to all the guests for making me feel so welcome. – Leica Wedding Photographer


Lumix G3 Street Photography

Lumix G3 Street Photography

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 + Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide Heliar lens via M4/3 – Leica M mount adapter

I took the G3 to London with various Leica M mount lenses to see what it was capable of vs. my Leica M9 and Nikon D800. Initially I was disappointed by the lower resolution and less apparent sharpness of the monochrome JPEGs however it gives the images quite a nice vintage almost filmic look (because of the softness I think).

Some sample images using the G3 on the street

Lumix G3 Street Photography

Panasonic DMC-G3

Central London

Vintage Street Photography

M4/3 + Leica M

London Street Photography

The Lumix G3 camera body + the compact CV 15/4.5 made for a lightweight setup. Using the m4/3 – LM adapter having the lens set at 0.5M meant everything from roughly 2m – infinity was in focus. That meant as long as I did not get too close to my subjects I could just point and shoot without any focus requirements. Similar to street photography using hyperfocal distance but easier. Being accustom to a Leica M9 camera I found it very easy to ‘see’ my shots even though I was using a new-to-me camera.

I will keep my thoughts on the G3 for a future post, my likes and dislikes so far. – Leica Photographer

Featured: Jeanloup Sieff

Featured: Photographer – Jeanloup Sieff

Featured: Jeanloup Sieff

I was in the Leica London store and cafe yesterday in Mayfair and we got talking about past photographers.  Jimmy who works there and is a wealth of knowledge recommended I look up the late Jeanloup Sieff.  A french fashion photographer that shot mostly in black and white and with a style not so different from my taste in terms of – black and white, female models, fashion, strong lighting and compositions.

I am probably unlike many photographers in that I just shoot whatever comes into my head.  I do not know many famous photographers..perhaps ten names at an absolute maximum.  I didn’t study photography so I missed that part of my photography education by being self taught.  I am very practical in my work but I would be lost if you fired famous names at me.

Inspired by Jimmy, I got on the internet when I got home and was really impressed with Sieff’s photography.  So much so I thought I would share it here.

Attached is a link to his book review – Jeanloup Sieff – 40 years of photography

Enjoy! – Leica Photographer

Nikkor 35-70mm f2.8D

Nikon D800 + Nikkor 35-70mm f2.8D

The Nikkor 35-70/f2.8D is a professional standard versitile lens with prime quality optical performance yet the ability to go closer (70mm) for a headshot or wide for a half body (35mm) without moving my feet.

The 35-70/2.8 was the original Nikon workhorse lens of a professional wedding photographer before Nikon released the 28-70/2.8D and then it’s replacement, the current model, Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8.

In comparison the 35-70/2.8 is an absolute bargain and I rather have this lens and a seperate wide angle prime lens and spend less money. I find it is not often that I use a 24mm focal length. 28mm is a much more useful focal length especially for work such as documentary wedding photography in small spaces.

The Nikkor 35-70 has quickly become my one lens setup for my Nikon D800 for both studio portraits and wedding photography.

Here are a few more Nikon D800 + 35-70/2.8 D examples –

Nikkor 35-70
Nikkor 35-70mm f2.8D
Nikkor 35-70/2.8D

Although I love my Leica M9 rangefinder there is occasions where it is just so nice to pickup a do-everything super easy to use DSLR, especially on a plain backdrop as here. Even using the D800 in manual mode as I do and mostly with manual lenses a DSLR is just so easy. Using the Leica M9 has made me slow down my DSLR shooting and I think I take more time considering and composing each of my images as a result of using a Leica camera m0st of the time.

Keep an eye out for my latest addition to my camera bag also – the Lumix G3! – Leica Photographer

Lumix G3 + Leica Lenses!

Lumix G3 + Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4

Here is the first test shot with the new-to-me Panasonic Lumix G3.

To recap on my expectations, I currently use a Leica M9 35mm digital rangefinder and a full frame Nikon D800 DSLR (plus many film cameras of various formats). I started out my photography with a Lumix G1 and I enjoyed it especially for macro photography. Four years later and I now enjoy portrait photography, specialising in model / fashion photography and wedding photography. I wanted a small backup camera for my Leica lenses. I saw the price of a used Lumix G3 so thought would have a gamble and picked one up on eBay. Worst case I can just sell it again. The cost of the camera was less than some of the accessories for the Leica M9 so it put things in perspective.

My challenge to myself and for a bit of fun is to try my various Leica m mount lenses and some M42 lenses on the Lumix G3 and see how close I can get the results to the more expensive cameras. I only plan to use the G3 with manual lenses.

Above is the first test shot using the Lumix G3 + Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4. Said to be one of the best lenses ever made for any camera format.

The Lumix G3 is known to not be great in low light (like the Leica M9) but here is a test shot at ISO 640 handheld 1/20 at f1.4.

The Lumix G3 in camera JPEG ‘Monochrome’ setting is sepia rather than true B&W so I desaturated the photo in PS Elements 6. My copy of LR3 cannot read the Lumix RAW files so JPEGs only for now until I get an updated version.

Interestingly the wider angle lenses (Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 and 28mm f2 Ultron so far) do not focus up close on the M4/3 – Leica M adapter. I believe this is true for lenses <50mm but will check in due course. b

Here I focused as close as I could focus with the Lux 50/1.4 with the lenses reading 0.7M. I nice shallow DOF for a M4/3 camera!

Not a bad result for the little Lumix G3 at ISO 640. The true test will be at ISO 160 (the lowest ISO on the Lumix G3). – Leica Photographer

Related Posts

Lumix G3 Coming Soon

Leica M Mount Lens King Of Bokeh Test!

Leica M Mount Lens King Of Bokeh Test

(Testing shallow DOF & bokeh with lenses at their widest aperture)

I did a similar test a long time ago when had my Lumix G1. It was an unplanned spur of the moment thing today.

The Bokeh Test

  • All lenses used at widest aperture and minimum focus distance.
  • All photos taken as B&W JPEG on Leica M9. All processed as I do all my images through LR3 with increased sharpness.

Qu. Which Leica M mount lenses were tested?

  • 1) Leica Elmar 135mm f4
  • 2) Leica Summicron 90mm f2
  • 3) Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5
  • 4) Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4
  • 5) Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii

(I did not test the slower Zeiss ZM Planar 50m f2 and Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5)

Qu. Winner of the Leica M mount Bokeh test (and shallow DOF)?

  • Leica Summicron 90mm f2 is King of Bokeh from lenses I own in terms of giving a very shallow DOF.

Qu. Lens giving the deepest DOF and so to me the least useful for my portraits?

  • Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5 – A great lens but the 0.9M minimum focal distance kills it.

Qu. Are Leica lenses visually better and performance wise better than Zeiss or Voigtlander lenses?

  • Not at all! The CV Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii easily matched the Leica lenses in the test giving excellent results – sharp wide open, shallow DOF even for a 35mm lens and with attractive bokeh.

Qu. Did the ‘One of the best lenses ever made’ stand out – The Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4?

  • No in this test is the Lux’ 50/1.4 was possibly the least impressive lens in terms of apparent sharpness, clarity and pop.

Qu. Apparent sharpest lens wide open (combination of resolution and contrast)?

  • The 1960s Leica Elmar 135mm f4.  This lens is also by far the cheapest of those tested and is also very lightweight and slim with a 39mm filter thread.  I can’t wait to mount the Elmar 135/4 on my Lumix G3!

Qu. Why did I do this test?

  • Because to me I often see very little visual difference between lenses I use when shooting models to the extent that I find it very difficult to tag photos afterwards as there is no accurate EXIF data. I also wanted to see which lens would give me the most shallow DOF for use on my new Lumix G3. The CV 35mm f1.2 would be equivalent to 70mm f1.2 with the 2x crop on the m4/3 body making it a perfect portrait lens.

Leica M Mount Lens Bokeh Test Results:

  • 1) Leica Elmar 135mm f4

Peg Bokeh Test! Leica Elmar 135mm f4

  • 2) Leica Summicron 90mm f2

Peg Bokeh Test! Leica Summicron 90mm f2

  • 3) Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5

Peg Bokeh Test! Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5

  • 4) Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4

Peg Bokeh Test! Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4

  • 5) Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii

Peg Bokeh Test! Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii

*Please note this was not a scientific test and the conclusion are based merely on my taste and views of the results obtained.  I’m sure some people may disagree with my findings but that is also fine. – Leica Photographer

Panasonic Lumix G3 – Coming Soon!

Panasonic Lumix G3 M4/3 Camera – My Latest Creative Tool!

Panasonic Lumix G3 - Coming Soon!

My first serious camera was a Panasonic Lumix G1 M43 camera back in 2010. It was on that camera that I taught myself photography from scratch. The best ‘accessory’ that I ever bought for the G1 was a Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens. There started my love for ‘proper’ metal and glass manual focus lenses. My favourite style of photography back in 2010 was colourful macro photography using the Lumix G1. Seeing A3 prints now from photos taken in 2010 still blow me away in terms of sharpness and colour considering the sensor size.

Here are a few of my favourite Lumix G1 + CV Nokton 40mm f1.4 photos:

Summer Meadow
Nokton 40mm / Raynox 250 combo #3
Drop refraction
Chalkhill Blue (2)

Why even consider buying a Lumix G3 now when I own a Nikon D800 and some amazing Nikon mount prime lenses and a Leica M9 with again some of the best Leica M mount and arguably best any camera lenses ever made?

Good question! I was toying with the idea of a second Leica camera body (Leica M9 or Leica M240) as a backup camera for my Leica wedding photography. The problem is I cannot use two cameras at once and Leica digital camera bodies depreciate fastest than my 1 litre little car. I don’t mind buying lenses as many hold their value but I would hate to literally thrown money down the drain on expensive digital camera bodies that do not hold their value and are not being used.

Advantages (to me) of getting a Panasonic Lumix G3?

1) Lumix G3 and Leica lenses – A Leica M – M4/3 adapter would let me use all my Leica M mount lenses on a second digital body. The EVF (viewfinder) of the G3 will in effect let me see through the lens like a DSLR. This is a big advantage vs. The Leica rangefinder system as any lens that did not quite calibrate with my Leica M9 rangefinder system will now be sharp and useable on the G3. A good example is my Russian Jupiter 3 50mm f1.5 Zeiss Sonnar clone lens. A second advantage is focusing telephoto lenses such as my new Leica Summicron 90mm f2 lens and Leica Elmar 135mm f4 as I will be able to use the EVF to focus rather than the tiny RF patch where with a telephoto lens a magnifier is sometimes recommended to aid focusing.
2) Leica M – M42 adapter – Similar advantage to #1 but it means I can use some of my favourite M42 mount lenses that I cannot use on the Leica M9, the Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8 and the Rollei Planar 50mm f1.8. Both are amazing for portrait photography.
3) Leica backup camera – As I can use my Leica M mount lenses on the Lumix G3 the G3 would become my backup camera for emergencies (in addition to my Nikon D800).
4) Lumix G3 Size – The G3 is pretty much perfect for my needs. I want a reasonably priced small lightweight ‘lightbox’ with a usable sensor quality and an EVF to mount my Leica M mount lenses to. Many of the small M4/3 cameras lack an EVF so to me are not a real camera. The G3 is smaller than my old G1 yet still has the EVF so perfect for my needs. The small size also means it will fit nicely into my compact Leica camera bag. This is a must for future overseas weddings where I need to be able to travel light yet have all my ‘essential’ equipment with me. I recently got booked for a wedding photography gig in Barbados. 12 months ago I would have had my Nikon D800 + Nikon D700 plus lenses such as the massive Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s. Flying that lot across would have resulted in additional baggage fees. For Leica weddings I can now get everything in my hand luggage with ease.
5) G3 as Creative tool – I still enjoy macro photography although I no longer currently ‘practise’ it. I had macro lenses, extension tubes and magnifying lenses for the Nikon D800 but I still think some of my best photos were with the G1. The Leica M9 is not designed for serious macro photography and the RF system only focuses as close as 0.7M. For wedding photography it is nice to include some detail shots. With the Lumix G3 I can now include some amazing close up photos into the wedding album such as ring shots and photos of the wedding bouquet.
6) “Good photographers can use any camera and get good results” – The most important aspect of any photo is light. I enjoy my lighting in my photography. At the moment I currently have cameras and lenses that some people may see as exotic or in basic terms just expensive. My challenge to myself is to get the same quality portrait photos using a Lumix G3 and my existing lenses as I get from the Nikon D800, Leica M9 or any of my 35mm or medium format film cameras.
7) Testing the Leica, Voigtlander and Zeiss lenses on a M4/3 body – There are many forum discussions debating whether the Leica ‘look’ I get from my Leica M9 is due to the lenses or the Leica Kodak CCD sensor. By using my lenses on a non-Leica body it will be interesting to see the results from some of the best lenses ever made such as the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 on a non-Leica camera body.
8) Times have changed – When I had my Lumix G1 back in 2010 my most expensive and treasured lens was the CV Nokton 40mm f1.4. Photography was new for me then and I was not sure if it would just be another fad hobby. I also did not have much money to spend on expensive lenses that I knew nothing about. Four years on I now teach photography and have my own studio. I earn money from my cameras so I never mind reinvesting the cash into more cameras and camera equipment. As a result I now have a range of nice Leica M mount lenses at my disposal. I also have a pretty good understanding of camera formats, lens types and limitations of each so may be in a better position to pair lenses and camera bodies for different uses.
9) Micro four third system crop factor – Some of you may or may not know that different cameras have different ‘crop’ factors. Traditional 35mm film cameras are the basis for what focal length is written on your cameras lens. If you have a 50mm lens on a 35mm film camera 50mm = 50mm. If you use a ‘full frame’ (“FX”) professional digital camera body such as the Nikon D800 or Leica M9 again a 50mm lens = 50mm. If you use a cropped sensor (“DX”) entry level or mid range camera such as a Nikon D90, it has a crop of 1.5x so a 50mm lens gives an equivalent 75mm view on that camera body. Micro four third cameras (“M4/3”) have a 2x crop factor so a 50mm lens such as my Leica Lux’ 50/1.4 gives a 100mm lens view on the M4/3 Lumix G3. As a result depending what camera I use a lens on I can now get two different equivalent lens lengths and potential lens uses from each lens. Because of the 2x crop factor many common focal lengths become too long or in better terms you do not have a wide lens option when using legacy non-m4/3 lenses.
10) Lenses I don’t currently use a great deal will now get a new lease of life – The Lumix G3 arrival really does excite me. I am already planning in my head which of my existing Leica M mount lenses I will use on the G3. The G3 is a compact lightweight camera so I want to select lenses to complement this. My current Lumix G3 lens trio is – Voigtlander Colour Skopar 21mm f4 lens (=42mm)(my smallest lens), Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 (=80mm)(small and lightweight with a proven track record) and the Leica Elmar 135mm f4 (=270mm yet a 39mm filter thread)(a thin light lens with great range). Another option that makes great sense is pairing my Lumix G3 and the Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5 (=30mm). This super sharp pancake style lens would give me a 30mm wide documentary style street photographer dream lens as everything at roughly a distance of 2m to infinity would be in focus so you can literally run and gun and get in amongst the action without really being seen. Perfect for weddings. I would not need to focus the lens if set it to infinity so could shoot with the camera a arms length above my head, between my legs or on the floor. The creative options are limitless. It is quite possible that the G3 may steal this lens for a super slimline lightweight setup giving super sharp images. Excited!

Shots of the Lumix G3 that was originally released in 2011:


lumix g3

See if you can spot the first G3 photos entering my Flickr stream. Will a photo from the low cost Lumix G3 be noticeably different from those taken with an expensive Leica M9!? We shall see! – Leica Photographer