Leica Workshop, Vegas! Leica Q3, M11..
Following my recent Leica workshop in Las Vegas (and California) I share some of the photos and videos from the trip to America. Jon (my student) kindly flew me out to Vegas (from London) to run a private 1:1 workshop for the week. He kindly let me borrow his Leica M11, Leica Q3 and Leica Q2 plus I had my own Leica cameras too.
Leica Q3 in Vegas! Time to upgrade?
Jon had managed to obtain the currently hard to find new Leica Q3 camera so I did some testing with it and made a video.
I developed a Leica Q3 preset pack for LR so I could quickly edit the Leica Q3 DNG files in Lightroom for the video. If you want to try them you can download them here.
When I first tried the Leica M11 in London
The first time I tested the Leica M11 camera was at a 1:1 workshop I was teaching in London. It was a model photography workshop with Leica cameras. For me the Leica SL series cameras are still the best for portraiture. The Leica M11 was okay. See the video for full details – Leica M11 + Leica M11M
Take-Two! Now did I like the Leica M11?
Leica M11 for street photography
I was glad I could re-test the Leica M11 as I wanted to give it a fair test. For me Leica M cameras are best for street photography, travel and documentary work. Walking the streets in California was the perfect testing opportunity. Finally I started to appreciate the camera for what it can offer. I don’t need the 60MP personally but I appreciated the USB-C charging port, extended battery life and reduced weight of the black Leica M11. Pairing the black Leica M11 with a very small rangefinder lens gives a very enjoyable and functional combo.
In the UK I normally shoot black and white but the California sun made me want to shoot more in colour. I updated the MrLeica Leica M11 preset pack to now include 2 black and white and 2 colour presets. Find them here.
What is best camera for you? Leica M11 vs Leica Q3
The two flagship 60MP cameras are currently the Leica M11 and Leica Q3. Do they take identical photos and which one should you buy? See the video for the full breakdown.
Which camera did I use the most?
As you see above, I had access to some very nice Leica cameras. Which camera became my daily carry? With my strong preference for film over digital I just wanted a small versatile set up to allow me to carry more film cameras. Leica Q cameras are lighter than a Leica M camera plus lens but they are not compact (in the grand scheme of things). For this reason the Leica Q didn’t leave my luggage except for the Leica Q vs Q2 vs Q3 shootout test.
I packed the Leica Q for low light night photography in Vegas. What I overlooked was the fact that the Las Vegas Strip pretty much glows in the dark from all the illuminations! You can easily shoot film at night on the Vegas Strip, no problem.
It’s funny, I had the Leica M11 and the Leica Q3, but no.
So the truth is, I actually used my little discontinued APS-C Leica CL camera the most (by far). Around 70% of my photos in the US were shot with the Leica CL. Here’s why.
Hybrid shooter + Photos from the US
Until I get time to develop my camera film from Vegas I have the digital backup / test images. As often a hybrid shooter, I normally shoot digital for models and film for me. Digital is fast and efficient and I can show the models in real time on the camera LCD. I use digital to “warm” the models up and when they look good I start shooting film too. Travel photography is different. Sometimes I will only shoot film when doing personal projects but digital is always a nice to have. In the online world today, digital photos are useful to help tell a story or even just a back up.
Vintage film cameras can sometimes be unpredictable with their results so you never quite know what you’ll get. The size of the digital Leica CL with a small M mount lens is not that different to a large Sekonic handheld light meter. If I’m feeling lazy I use the Leica CL to meter my film shots.. During the daytime I shoot “sunny 16” so it’s more for metering difficult lighting situations.
Leica CL photos
All photos below shot with the Leica CL camera were captured using either the TTArtisan 28mm f5.6 lens or the Light Lens Lab 35mm f2 8-Element lens. See the above video for a visual of my setup. All photos were DNG files edited in Adobe Lightroom with my 1-click preset edits.
The problem with sharing the “test” photos before posting the “real” film photos is you’ll have a a pretty good idea of what to expect. Sorry in advance but it might be months before I get around to the film images.
New Leica CL preset pack for 2023
My original Lightroom Leica CL preset pack was developed when I first bought the camera, back in 2019 I think. When I reviewed my RAW files taken in the US I wanted to give the photos a look closer to how I remember the scenes. The light in Vegas and California is not the same as the UK. For this reason I set to work to develop a new set of Leica CL presets for 2023. The original plan was to just make one new colour and one new black and white. Going through my images I found that one colour preset didn’t suit all images and likewise for B&W. My final set of 4 presets allowed me to edit all my images with just a single click (per set). Exactly what I need when I always struggling for time.
New Leica CL preset pack includes:
- BW-HC (Black and white high contrast)
- BW-LC (Black and white low contrast)
- Col-Vin (Colour vintage – Film inspired)
- Col-Vin2 (Colour vintage 2 – Film inspired)
Leica CL Presets – Comparison Sliders
Swipe from left to right to see the effect of each Leica CL Lightroom preset on the original DNG files.
Las Vegas Leica CL photos + California
To showcase the new Leica CL presets I’ve split the photos into four batches, using a different Leica CL preset for each set. (I included a few duplicates so you can compare).
Black & white high contrast – Leica CL
Black and white low contrast – Leica CL
Colour vintage – Film inspired
Colour vintage 2 – Film inspired
Colour or black and white?
As typically a mostly black and white photographer, I was particularly happy with how some of the colour images came out. There is definitely some magic in the light that we lack in the UK. Even the most mundane objects can look really photogenic with the nice light. As someone that has never been to Vegas before, everything was different, thereby interesting. I particularly liked the vehicles and the signs as you probably gathered!
What about my film photos?
Multi-day Leica workshops
I should probably explain a little more about the Leica workshop in Vegas. Jon had bought the Leica Q2 as he heard it can take nice photos. Then if you saw my Gateway to Leica video, the same thing happened with Jon. The Leica Q2 was nice but he wanted a “proper” Leica M camera so he bought the Leica M11. This was Jon’s setup when we did the first workshop day in London.
Jon writes to me a few months later and says come to Vegas for a week. For overseas long-haul flight multi-day workshops I ask the student to cover my expenses (flights, accommodation, meals) and then pay me an agreed token day rate (to ensure I’m not out of pocket after the trip). This often works out cheaper for the student than paying my workshop day rate each day. Jon had now got the Leica Q3 too so the goal for the week was to get John more familiar with the Leica M11 and Leica Q3. I needed him to be comfortable using both cameras before I left.
More MrLeica workshops in the US
Since showing my America trip on YouTube a number of photographers have reached out to request workshops. If you live in the Miami area or New York get in touch. If I can group several 1:1 workshops together (back to back) it will help split the expenses to make it more feasible. (The last time I was teaching in New York was 2015 and 2016!)
Where is the Leica Q camera shootout?
I’ll embed the YouTube video here once the Leica Q vs Q2 vs Q3 video is published. Sign up to the blog so not to miss the film photos from Vegas article.