Lomography.com – Petzval 85 Art

Lomography.com – Petzval 85 Art

Matthew Osborne Photography/ @MrLeicaCom

September 2016

 

Petzval 85 Art Lens – Nikon F Mount

The lovely people at Lomography.com kindly got in touch and lent me their Nikon mount brass Petzval 85 Art lens to try.  Below is a link describing how I got on and here are some example images with Sophie and Charlotte (also included in link).  All photos taken with my old Nikon D800.

..I have to say, the Petzval 85 Art makes Nikon D800 photos interesting so it’s good! (I say that as I struggled to get excited with my Nikon D800 photos on the whole hence my move to film and Leicas).

Petzval 85 Art

Sophie
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85
Petzval 85 Art
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85 Art Lens Brass
Petzval Bokeh
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85 Art

Charlotte
Petzval 85
Petzval 85 Art Lens
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85
New Petzval 85 Art Lens Brass

Lomography.com Magazine – MrLeica.com

Link – https://www.lomography.com/magazine/323494-matt-osbourne-portraits-with-the-petzval-85

Petzval 85 vs. Other Nikon Mount Fast Lenses

When using the Petzval 85 lens it reminded me of the overly soft photos captured from my Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s lens when shooting at f1.2. Here are a few examples as a comparison. I think the Petzval 85 is sharper wide open at f2.2 and has ‘better’ bokeh (meaning more character).

Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s

Nikon D800 Headshot
Alice with Nikkor 50/1.2 AIS
Katie SOOC with 50/1.2 AIS @f1.2

I then thought perhaps the Samyang 85mm f1.4 would be more comparable so here are a few samples. The Samyang 85 is pretty sharp wide open at f1.4 and a great lens but I think again the Petzval 85 lens bokeh has more character.

Samyang 85mm f1.4

Innocence?
2012 REPOST: Nikon D800 + Samyang 85mm f1.4 Fashion
Harriett
Nikon FM

Petzval 85 vs. Leica M Fast Lenses

Finally, as a Leica photographer it seems only right to include a few example photos with fast Leica lenses that are also soft(ish) focus shot wide open.  The obvious lenses that spring to mind that I own are the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 and Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5.

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2

Leica M9 Skin Tones
Leica M9 + Noctilux
Leica M9 + Noctilux
Leica M Typ 240 + Noctilux
Leica Noctilux Bokeh

Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5

Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
Street Portrait
Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
Retro Leica

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Digital Photography Workflow

Digital Photography Workflow

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

People have asked me several times on Flickr what is my digital photography workflow.  Here it is but I think you might be disappointed as there is no magic bullet answer!

The process applies to any digital camera;  Leica M9, Leica M Typ 240 or Nikon D800.

Workflow

  • Firstly, capture photos in RAW format in camera
  • Remove SD card from camera and copy images to external hard drive via the PC
  • Import all images into Adobe Lightroom 5
  • Apply sharpening,  colour and contrast adjustments manually to one image
  • Copy adjustments made to the one photo across all images (synchronize settings)
  • Review each image for exposure and adjust as needed until happy
  • Export all images reduced size with watermark logo applied on export (for model)
  • For images of interest export full size watrmark free and open image in Photoshop
  • Apply border and add a watermark
  • Add additional contrast adjustment layers until happy with the tones
  • Dodge and burn parts of the image if needed such as the eyes
  • Clone out any obvious pimple or blemish if required
  • Export image and upload to Flickr

That is my usual process for 95% of the images I take.  I don’t use presets, plugins or apply excessive airbrushing or smoothing.

Wedding Photography vs Model Photography

For wedding photography editing I upload all the images to Lightroom as described but then I only select the images I want to keep before I start editing.  Documentary style (“photojournalism”) wedding photography happens with minimal interuption in an fluid and often uncontrolled environment.  As such so not every image is a keeper so it takes times to go through all the photos.

My model photography editing is the opposite and much faster.  I control every last detail; the pose, the lighting, the timing, the location, the clothing, the makeup, the expression and even the model selection.  I don’t press the shutter until I am happy with the photo and as such I don’t have to delete many images. Some photographers only give models a hand full of images for their time.  If models receive all the photos they can select their favourites rather than just the ones I like.

Sorry if you expected something more complicated!

Next.. Film Photography Workflow

Nikon D800 – It’s OK but it’s no Leica

Nikon D800 – It’s OK but it’s no Leica

image

As many of you may have noticed from my Flick feed (from the comments received), I’ve suddenly started using my pre-Leica days Nikon D800 DSLR again.  At first it was to test lenses for my Nikon F4 SLR, then I took it to Poland for a model photography trip to share lenses with the Nikon F4.  Love for the Nikon D800 was reignited using it with autofocus lenses such as the Tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro.  Life was good.

For my last model photography shoot in the UK I decided to dig out my Leica M8 to use.  I shot the Leica M8 plus Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens against the current flavour of the month,  the D800 plus Tokina 100mm prime.  Suddenly the Nikon D800 didn’t look so special.   Out gunned by the old slow simple Leica M8 which produced far more pleasing images to my eyes.  Hmm, the new Nikon romance was starting to show signs of weakness.

I then had another trip to pack for.  I wanted to take one film camera and one digital camera.  The smaller and lighter the better.  I could not take the Leica M9,  reasons to follow, so for the digital camera it was the Leica M8 or the Nikon D800.  I needed professional quality images,  not just arty looking, and possibly shooting in very low light.  I picked the Nikon D800 and packed my smallest Nikon mount lenses, my new Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II pancake manual focus lens and also my new Nikkor 28mm f2.8 E series manual focus lens.  For the film camera the possible obvious choice was the Nikon F4 SLR as I took to Poland but the F4 is bulky and heavy.  I also needed lenses to be sharp wide open and I know the Nikkor 50mm primes are sub-standard vs Leica quality.  I therefore picked my Leica M3 double stroke paired with the mighty Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR lens.

After a two days of shooting the Nikon D800 with manual focus lenses the Nikon romance was dead.  I wished for my Leica M8 despite one shoot being at ISO 3200 and me having to use pop up flash on the D800 for some photos.  My eyes really struggled to focus the MF lenses by eye resulting in mis-focused images for the first shoot.  When I tried to work fast and focus by eye at more than 0.5m I sometimes missed on a few photos. When I focused at more than 1m distance from my model I used the Nikon focus confirmation green dot in the viewfinder and it was still easy to miss focus.  Next option was to stop lenses down to from f2-f2.8 to say f4-f5.6 and I was still able to miss focus on the eyes.  On the Leica M cameras I can hit focus at f1 on the Leica Noctilux pretty much every photo with the Leica rangefinder focus system.  It seems my eyes became spoilt by 18 months of using the Leica RF system and now I am no longer able to focus a DSLR accurately and quickly with manual focus lenses. 

When I did the Nikon F4 vs Leica M3 shoot out prior to the trip with model Harriet (results and conclusion still to follow) I did not struggle using the Nikon F4 with manual focus Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s lens but then thinking back to it, most photos were taken at around 0.5m or less distance.  Some models make me want to shoot as close as possible to capture face details yet others make me want to back up to get full length images.  It also depends on the location, whether to include the background or hide it.

So to conclude,  the Nikon D800 cannot match the Leica M8 or Leica M9 in creating interesting images in terms of rendering from the CCD Leica sensor (together with Leica M lens glass) vs Nikon CMOS sensor. No surprise that I prefer the filmic look of the CCD sensor when I love film photography.  The D800 can however create clean sharp modern looking images and at an ISO of 1600-3200 vs 640-800 on the M9 and even lower ISO on the M8. Secondly, for manual focus lenses, I found my weakness in that I have lost my ability to focus MF lenses accurately with the D800.  This is not a deal breaker as I have some autofocus lenses for the D800 like the Tokina 100mm Macro.  This camera-lens combination still lets me focus longer and closer that my regular Leica M lenses and as quickly and accurately.  I still love the large file size of the Nikon D800 for creative cropping, the long battery life and the modern larger rear LCD display.  It looks like maybe I am moving towards getting a Leica M 240 again! 

Is the Nikon D800 dead once more, to be returned to the shelf to collect dust for another 18 months?  No.  I just need to be aware that personally I can operate the D800 better (faster and more accurately) with autofocus lenses.  Strangely I find it easier to focus the Nikon F4 vs the D800 for manual lenses.

Blog posts in the pipeline for  –

> Nikon F4 vs Leica M3 Shoot Out
> Nikon D800 vs Leica M8 image comparison
> Nikon D800 with Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II lens
> Film images and more details from my latest trip
> Ilford Delta 100 vs Kodak T-Max 100 vs Fuji Acros 100 film comparison

Leica S2!

Leica S2!

Matthew Osborne Photography

For a 1-2-1 photography workshop in January the guy brought his Leica S2 for me to look at knowing I was a Leica nut. The S2 with lens is a £12,500 camera and well out of my price range.  My first impressions were the S2 was bulkier than my Nikon D800 but lighter than it looked.  I was fortunate enough to get to try the S2 during the workshop to get some photos of model Georgie who was  posing for us.  I wanted to push it to see what it could do so used it at high ISO and also slow shutter speeds handheld.

Here is a link to Red Dot Cameras showing the Leica S2 camera + lens I used and with more details – http://www.reddotcameras.co.uk/s-bodies/4684-new-leica-s-type-006-body.html

1-2-1 Photography Workshop

Leica S2 vs Leica M9
Leica M cameras are my bread and butter cameras. I enjoy using the analogue Leica M3 and Leica M2 and also the digital Leica M9 (and Leica M8).   I find the Leica M rangefinder focusing very accurate and easy to use and now struggle to focus through the lens such as with my Nikon D800 DSLR and also the Leica S2. The Leica S2 was equipped with an autofocus Leica Summarit-S 70mm f2.5 ASPH lens (as shown in link above). The 70/2.5 ASPH was excellent at what it did but I still much prefer manual focusing on the smaller Leica M lenses.  Handling wise I prefer the simplicity and size of the Leica M cameras and rangefinder focusing.  Image quality from the Leica S2 + Summarit-S 70/2.5 lens was excellent with good useable photos at high ISO (ISO 1250). The tonality from highlights to shadows on the S2 was very smooth and images showed a broader dynamic range vs the M9 (and D800) (I thought).  Colours and skin tones from the S2 were very natural and the best I have seen on any digital camera I have used.  S2 images were very sharp where in focus and with pleasing out of focus areas.  If I was a fashion and beauty photographer for Vogue or other magazine I think this would be an excellent camera to have.  Photos have a look similar to the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens combined with some characteristics seen in the Nikon D800 images.  I enjoy the size of the Leica M cameras and lenses most of all and think they work well for my needs as a wedding photographer, travel photographer, fashion and lifestyle photography on location and even studio photography.  I also have 98% confidence that I can hit focus at f1.0 on Leica M cameras for static subjects yet perhaps only 60-75% with AF lenses wide open on the S2 or D800.  This is why I use rangefinder cameras mostly.

Leica S2 :)

Leica S2 Portrait

Would I buy a Leica S2?
No I think for the huge amount of money a Leica S2 costs (with a Leica S lens) I could buy a Nikon D800E and Zeiss Macro lens and get similar results if I needed a large file size.  With the money saved I might get a Leica M 240 for low light Leica M photography such as my wedding photography and then use the rest of the money to buy 35mm film for the analogue Leica M cameras and 120 roll film / 4×5 sheet film for the medium format / large format analogue film cameras I use.

Leica S2 Colours

Thanks!
Huge thanks for letting me use such an amazing camera.  A rare oppotunity indeed.  It was only 18 months or so ago a photographer brought his Leica M9 to a 1-2-1 photography workshop for me to try and look where that lead to! 🙂

Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 – Collapsible

1959 Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 – Collapsible

Matthew Osborne Photography – “Mr Leica”

elmar 50v2

Continuing my quest for the smallest lightest most compact Leica M camera setup I decided to buy myself a smaller 50mm for when I need to pack light, a 15 blade 1959 chrome Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 lens with bayonet mount and E39 filter thread.   The newer version 4 Leica Elmar-M 50mm f2.8 lens is lighter, sharper and with only 6 blades but I wanted a lens with quirks and more character and also with a smaller price tag!  The older version 3 Elmar lens I bought can be picked up for about half the price of a used Leica Elmar-M 50mm.  The original 1920s Leica Elmar 50mm lens was f3.5 and even smaller.  I want to be able to use my 50mm Elmar lens when there is less than ideal light so I opted for the 1950s f2.8 version.  Version 2 of this lens is said to be the most popular Leica lens ever made until it was superseded by the first Leica Summicron 50mm f2 lens in 1953.

So why did I pick this particular lens?  The Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 lens is a collapsible design so the lens becomes more compact when not in use.  I could have bought a 50mm f2 collapsible lens instead such as a Leica Summar 5cm f2, Summitar 5cm f2 or an early Summicron 5cm f2 all of which share the same basic design where the lens is collapsible into the camera body.  In an ideal world I would chose f2 over f2.8 but the early 50mm f2 lenses are said to have very soft lens coatings so finding one in good condition is not as easy.  The slower Elmar lenses are also less in demand so old versions can be picked up on eBay at a good price and in nice condition.  Shot wide open the 50mm Elmar lens will have the old Leica lens soft glow look similar to my Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 but stopped down to f5.6-f8 it should be almost as sharp as my Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4.  I have seen sample images with the exact lens I bought and it is sharp at f5.6.  With clever use of light I will try to get it looking sharp wide open too.  (See the results from my new Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens shot wide open.  They look sharp to me and that is supposed to be a soft lens wide open).

When will I use the Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 lens?  I think lens is too soft shot wide open for wedding photography but I will use it for at least three types of photography.  Personal work which is normally model photography and portraiture.  To be more specific I will use this lens when I want to pack light such as for a day trip to London or a location shoot in Poland.  I will use it for engagement photography if the Elmar has a signature look that I really like.  Engagement sessions let me get creative so I use more unusual equipment than I might at a wedding.  Lastly, travel photography.  When I was in Mallorca last year there was so much light I was doing landscape and street photography at f8-f11.  The little Leica Elmar is the ideal lens for this occasion as stopped down I could use any of my 50mm lenses and get similar results (I think!).

What camera will I use the Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 lens with?  I will test the lens on my Leica M9 digital camera so I understand what it can and cannot do in different light conditions.  After that I will use it with my 1950s Leica M3 film camera for a full 1950s camera-lens combo!  I think if I load the Leica M3 with 35mm Kodak Tri-X 400 film and develop it in Rodinal as normal I can get sharp looking images at f2.8.  That is the plan anyway!  I don’t plan to use this lens with colour film shot wide open as I think it will be too soft.

Sample images coming soon!

Size Matters – Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4

Size Matters – Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 MC

Matthew Osborne Photography

As my photography ‘matures’ different things become important to me.  In the earlier years bigger was best.  I remember getting my first big lens, the Nikkor 80-200  f2.8 AF, and suddenly I felt like a ‘Pro’ when at family weddings as all ‘Pros’ have big cameras and big lenses don’t they?!  I then up’d my game and got myself a Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s prime lens.  Now that is a proper lens and it makes you look more like the paparazzi than a wedding photographer.

All that was a few years back.  Now I use Leica M cameras (+ medium format / large format film) and the opposite mentality applies.  Smaller and more compact is best (for me).  I have touched on this before but I am finding I am turning into more and more of a purest, with regards to my Leica M film cameras especially.  I only want to use 50mm lenses on the Leica M3 (with it’s 50mm viewfinder) and I only ‘want’ to use 35mm lenses on the Leica M2 (with 35mm viewfinder).  That is all well and good but the chosen lens needs to meet my requirements too.  There is no point me having a small camera if I then hang a big lens on the front to imbalance it.  Similarly, there is no point me putting a tiny lens on the camera if it cannot produces images that I ‘demand’.  Therefore I need to find a happy medium / middle ground that ticks most of my boxes.

50mm (Leica M3) – My preferred lens is the 50mm Leica Summicron f2 v5 lens as it is  smaller than the Summilux ASPH.  I do use the Summilux if I need to work in low light and with colour film that I cannot push as easily. Black and white film is easier as I just develop as I need.

35mm (Leica M2) – I didn’t have a 35mm lens that I was 100% happy with.

35mm lens I have are:

  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii lens which is very capable (and to me very usable shot wide open for paying clients) BUT all that comes at a cost. It is big and heavy.  I think of it as my 35mm Noctilux with some slight similarities in certain conditions.
  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 Pii is perhaps my smallest lens but with an f2.5 widest aperture is not bright enough for many of my available light photoshoots.
  • Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5 – low contrast slow ‘fun’ lens. Not for serious work but great for personal work

New 35mm I considered:

  • Older Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 Pre-ASPH
  • Older Leica Summicron 35mm f2 Pre-ASPH
  • Newer Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 ASPH
  • Newer Leica Summicron 35mm f2 ASPH
  • Zeiss ZM Biogon 35mm f2 T
  • Zeiss ZM Distagon 35mm f1.4 T
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 SC
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 MC

I spent a fair bit of time reviewing images from the Leica lenses and Voigtlander lenses.  I was happy size wise with all the Leicas and the Noktons.  They are all tiny lenses and all built to a similar high standard.  I ruled the Zeiss ZM lenses out immediately due to their bigger size.  I already have sharp 35mm lenses if size is no issue.  I am not normally a pixel peeper but I read a few reviews of the Leicas vs the Voigtlanders and yes the new Leica lenses are sharper but I bet 99% of the population could not tell images from these lenses apart once they had received basic editing.  The little Voigtlander ‘Classic’ as it is called is not perfect by any means.  I know as I have a Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 already that I got on my Voigtlander Bessa R3A (that has 40mm framelines).  Going back to the purest thing briefly, I could easily use the 40/1.4 on the M2 and I have done but I am not satisfied to guess between 35mm or 50mm framelines for the 40mm crop.  I can’t compose precisely on film if I am guessing the crop / composition.

Nokton 35mm f1.4v2

The Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 MC is not perfect as it is less sharp wide open vs new Leica lenses (in tests done by others), has heavier vignetting at wider apertures, gives soft focus corners to images wide open, has distortion so a straight line becomes slightly curved in a photo, has ‘harsh’ bokeh with highlight edges to the circles, lacks the flare resistance of modern Leica lenses, and often has some focus shift issues (f2-f4 approx).  On the upside, the colours are better (more saturated) than the cooler colours of Leica glass, I like the harsh bokeh, I like vignetting, I like soft corners for portraits, I don’t mind a glow from slight flare and I plan to use it at f1.4 so am not worried about shift.  Better still you can buy a new Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 for about half the price of an old Leica 35mm lens and about 4 times cheaper than a new 35mm Leica Summicron ASPH /Summilux ASPH.  I was tempted to buy Leica but the older lenses are at least as soft as the Nokton wide open (it seems) and the Nokton has character rather than being clinical like the new Leica lenses (like my 50mm Summilux ASPH).  To me the Voigtlander 35mm 1.4 is like a mini Noctilux in that it is the imperfections and low light ability that attract me most of all.  I have had some great results with the 40mm Nokton so that helped my decision to buy a 35mm Nokton.

I bought the MC (multi-coated) version rather than the SC (single coated) as it has slightly less flare and more contrast.  People often say SC is best for black and white film and MC for colour film.  As I develop my own B&W film I control the contrast when I develop the film so I can easily develop film to be less constrasty if I need to retain more shadow detail.  On the whole it is better for me to have high contrast and more apparent sharpness in camera from the lens so I chose the MC.  The Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 MC will now spend it’s days on my Leica M2 for my ultimate travel companion and to pair with the Leica M3 + 50mm setup.

What triggered this purchase?

I was shooting in London yesterday and had my Leica M3, Leica M2 and Leica M9 cameras.  I had the 40mm Nokton on the M2 and it fit like a glove.  With the leather hand strap it was the perfect street photographer camera. Very minimal and HCB like!  I then decided to take the Summilux off the Leica M3 to ‘borrow’ it on the M2 as I knew it was sharper.  The size of the Summilux just ruined the whole feel of the camera and experience in general.  I got home and thought to myself, I need a low light 35mm lens that is as small as the 40mm Nokton.  I like the size of the 50mm Summicron but sometimes have to use the ‘Lux if low light.

I have also recently being tempted by 28mm lenses such as the Leica 28mm Summicron f2 or Leica Elmarit 28mm f2.8. I am most tempted buy the Elmarit for the M9 due to it’s compactness as the Leica M9 has 28mm framelines and I can adjust the ISO if need more light.  That would be perfect for a compact digital travel camera setup but for my usual work, portraits and low light weddings I needed a faster lens and not quite as wide. 50mm is still my go to focal length for portraits but 35mm is good for environmental portraits, wedding photography, street photography and when working in tighter spaces.

Here are a few sample images using the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 to give an idea of what images may look like

Leica M9 B&W Portrait

Leica M9 Fashion

Voigtlander Bessa R3A Portrait

Ukraine

Leica, Ukraine

Leica M2 + Nokton 40mm + B&W Film

Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4

CV Nokton 40mm f1.4 Bokeh

Leica Portrait

Leica M9 Fashion

..As you may imagine I am not too concerned that the 35mm Nokton is not sharp enough or has a list of other failings.  It’s 40mm sibling seems to do OK 🙂

Full Frame Cameras – 35mm vs 50mm

Full Frame Cameras – 35mm vs 50mm

Matthew Osborne Photography

If anyone asks me “Are you a 35mm man or a 50mm man?” I always reply 50mm.  50mm is my go to focal length for any full frame camera.  My favourite camera is my Leica M3 as it has 50mm frame lines filling the 0.91x magnified viewfinder.  My favourite combo for full frame film is a Leica M3 + Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 + Kodak Tri-X.  My favourite Nikon lens is the Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s.  Even for medium format film photography I used the equivalent of 50mm on a full frame (35mm) camera.  80mm for medium format cameras roughly equates to 50mm for my Leica or Nikon cameras.  For the Mamiya 645 Super I use a Mamiya Sekor 80mm f1.9 C and for the Rolleiflex SL66E a Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 HFT.

Why do I like the 50mm focal length?  It provides the same field of view as the human eye and the most ‘natural’ or life size view as if I was looking at the same view without a camera.  I use many different lenses but 50mm just seems to suit me best.  If a want a small Leica camera setup I use the Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens on the M3 or the M9.  Great little lens.

Am I missing something when chosing 50mm?  For me personally, yes.  I tend to shoot as close to 0.7M-1.0M as I can for most of my portraiture, whether on location or in the studio.  This means I can have amazing scenery around me and the model yet I blur it all completely by shooting my lenses wide open and then cropping in portrait orientation to remove any background that was in view.  It makes me wonder sometimes if it is worth visiting other countries when a portrait photo could have been taken in my back garden.

50mm for wedding photography?  If I use one camera body for a wedding my normal focal length is 50mm.  I have used the Leica Noctilux 50f1 for weddings and have had to back into the corner to get a wide enough field of view.  That or I just take a 50mm crop of the scene.  I do take wider lenses too so to get a complete set of wedding photos but 50mm is often the norm.

35mm for wedding photography? A few days ago I was looking back at some wedding photos from over 12 months ago where I used the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.2 ASPH lens for the majority of a wedding (on my M9).  I had also done an earlier wedding with a 28mm Voigtlander Ultron f2 lens and liked those images too.  For both sets of images I got to see not only the wedding couple in the images but the wedding guests or venue around them.  I also liked the perspective the wider lenses gave.

To recap my standard camera setup, for digital photography I have a Leica 1.4x magnifier on my Leica M9 camera viewfinder.  Permanently.  If a lens is wider I just guess the composition, review and refine if needed.  The 1.4x magnifier gives me a 50mm view like the Leica M3.

35mm for model photography?  On location. Today I decided to remove the M9 1.4x magnifier and attach my Voigtlander 35f1.2 ASPH lens rather than a 50mm lens.  As usual I focused the lens near to as close as it could focus (0.7M) most of the time but now I found myself shooting more in a horizontal format, rather than mainly a portrait orientation (as I mostly do with the Mamiya 645 Super and WTL).  This meant I was starting to make use of my surroundings and composing my images to include both the model and space around her.  I liked it!

35mm for model photography? In the studio.  After today’s location shoot we continued the photography back at the studio (in the warm).  I tried to push myself and stick to the  35mm focal length throughout despite it not being ideal in the studio.  On the whole I did however I did swap to longer lenses a few times.  For me 35mm is too wide for portraiture in a smallish studio.

Conclusion?  Am I a changed man?  Well not really, I still prefer 50mm overall but I can now appreciate that for multiple subjects, such as a wedding I might go for a 35mm lens  first and for model photography with a single person I will keep using 50mm if in the studio but consider wider when on location.  That or just try to back up from my subjects more to capture a wider scene with a 50mm lens.

Sample Images (some of which break the above general comments)

50mm on location

Leica M2 + 35mm Kodak Tri-X

50mm in the studio

Leica M9 + Noctilux Portrait

35mm on location

Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 ASPH

35mm in the studio

Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5

35mm wedding

UK Leica Wedding Photography

50mm wedding

Leica M9 Noctilux Wedding