Budapest Models: Leica M240+M3 & Nikon FM

Budapest Models: Leica M240+M3 & Nikon FM

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

August 2017

Here is a post I wrote but didn’t get chance to share from May when I went to Budapest –

Leica Photographer

Budapest, May17

I’m just heading home after a very enjoyable few days in Budapest. It was not quite my normal style of cramming in 5 models a day morning til night but I still managed 8 photoshoots and got to see a little bit of the city too!

Cool Bikes

If you follow me on Instagram you might have noticed I’m currently training for an endurance triathlon called an ‘Ironman’. I was very aware that I couldn’t just stop training when I got to Budapest as it would put me back a few weeks in terms of progress. I had hoped to run each day but annoyingly I’ve picked up the standard Achilles’ tendon issues due to over training. My plan was therefore to use the Budapest Bubi bikes to keep my legs moving but just before going to use one I read on Trip Advisor that tourists have ran up huge bills by taking a bike out for 24hrs. They are more designed for locals to use and drop within 30mins. Instead I found Bikebase Budapest and hired from them a retro single speed bike to cruise round the city on. I was really sad to give it back after 24hrs! On the last day I then found myself will a spare hour before the first model arrived so I ran to the shop, literally, hired another bike from them and went and did a quick 20km loop along the Danube river before dropping it back and running back to the apartment just in time for the first model! I loved every minute cycling in the sunshine and the Budapest cycle paths are much better than most of the cities I’ve cycled in in the UK.

Single Speed

Models

I found some of my go to model friends were out of town during my stay but luckily I headhunted a few new girls to join me for photoshoots instead. I get more and more picky with the models I work with year on year so that makes the task 10x more difficult! If I wouldn’t include a model in my portfolio then I don’t ask to work with them. I met 5 models I’d worked with on previous trips to Budapest and then 3 new girls. The models I knew from previous visits really stepped it up a level and on the whole produced some of our best images together to date I think. Picking new models based on Instagram photos can be risky as most models are now pretty good with the various editing apps to the extent that that you would not recognise them in real life! Luckily for me though, the unedited photos I was seeing on my Leica M240 LCD with these girls far exceeded any expectations I may have had from Instagram. Iphone selfies with lots of filters applied can be nice I’m sure but they don’t compare to a proper camera. From the models positive responses it seemed it was not just my opinion!

Some of the photos I was capturing on this trip were instant favourites but I was consciously working differently to how I have been taking pictures recently.

Back to basics

In my earlier model photography I relied heavily on using available light to illuminate models. That was especially true when using my Leica M2 and Leica M3 as I can’t use my flash triggers on them (as easily) but also for all the much earlier work with cameras like the ARAX-CM, Yashica MG-1, Pentacon Six TL, Voigtlander Bessa R3A and others. More recently I have favoured cameras like the Hasselblad 500CM/ 501C, Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, Leica M6 Classic, Leica M4P, Mamiya 6, Hasselblad XPan all which let me use wireless off camera flash easily. Likewise for the digital photos I nearly always use flash when shooting in the UK and often when overseas also to create light when I want and where I want. (There will always be exceptions such as Budapest last autumn when I was using the Leica M2 for some available light work).

Budapest Models Blog Post

I was digging through my old photos on Flickr and thought to myself, I never take photos like that anymore yet I quite like them. Most of my model photography was with available light and I used all my lenses at their widest aperture for dreamy shallow depth of field portraits. I think as I started to use more and more flash I started to stop the lenses down and I often shot with a model against a wall so I didn’t need a shallow DOF. Another reason for stopping lenses down on the Leica M240 over the last 6-9 months is I noticed the rangefinder needs recalibrating again but I’ve not had 6-8 weeks free to send it away to Leica Germany. As such I just use the M240 stopped down a little (f4 on a 35mm lens).

I think partly due using lenses stopped down lens I have not been as excited to take photos with the Leica M240 as I used to. I packed the ‘M’ to bring to Budapest as it was the only camera that gives high quality images and high resolution for the models that packs small in my bag and can work well in low light if needed. I did consider the Leica M8 but some experienced models almost expect the super polished modern look from a CMOS sensor so don’t always appreciate the 10MP more filmic style. I appreciate both.

Rangefinder or LiveView

I was partly through the first photoshoot in Budapest shooting at around f4 on a 35mm lens and I suddenly had a light bulb moment. I could focus the image with the LCD in LiveView mode and then shoot my lenses wide open. That was that and I didn’t look back once! I shot all photos after that wide open using LiveView to critically focus and I got quite quick at it by the end. I also shot almost the entire trip with available light at perhaps ISO 800 max. (There was one exception where due to the photo style the model wanted we used flash and stopped down!).

Lumix LX100 Fashion

Most of the photos I took will therefore look a bit different (hopefully!) compared to my photos over the last 6-12+ months or so I think. It was so nice to use the lenses wide open again and for what they were designed for. The star of the trip was without doubt the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH which was on the M240 camera most of the time. I will definitely get the M240 recalibrated at my earliest convenience. One point to note is although LiveView is a good plan B option, I believe the rangefinder focusing method is still king. It is faster and the camera is much more stable resting the camera against the forehead so to me is better for critical focusing and allows the use of slower shutter speeds.

Camera Gear

  • Leica M240 digital camera body
  • Leica M3 film camera (recalibrated)
  • Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens
  • Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 classic lens
  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
  • Nikon FM SLR film camera
  • Voigtlander 40mm f2 SL II pancake lens
  • Lumix LX100 digital compact (backup)

35mm Film

I have been using mostly Kodak Double-X 5222 black and white film over the last six months and Kodak Motion Picture colour film stocks (As I bulk load them). I therefore decided to take different films for a change and went back to film I used to use a lot in my early film photography. I took Kodak T-Max 100 and Kodak T-Max 400 and a roll of Kentmere 100 to use up. For colour film I took Fujicolor C200 as I like the fine grain and some Kodak Porta 400.

Thanks

As usual a big thank you to all the models I worked with in Budapest. It is the models that make the trip. In no order thanks to Franciska, Cynthia, Nikoletta, Daniella, Flora, Sara, Lili and Tamara. You may recognise a few familiar faces! 🙂

First look

Here are a few photos I have processed since getting home but as always there will be more to come to my Flickr feed and Instagram account (@MrLeicaCom) in the coming days/ weeks.

…luckily as it has taken me so long to post it here are quite a few photos from Budapest!

Leica M240 Digital – Colour

Leica M240 + Voigtlander Nokton 40mm
Leica Fashion
Hello from Budapest :)

Leica M240 Digital – B&W

Voigtlander Nokton 40mm
Nokton Classic 40mm
Leica Art Nude
Leica M240 + Voigtlander 40mm
Central Budapest
Leica M240 B&W
Leica B&W
Budapest Models
Budapest Model

 

Leica M3 Film Scans

Modern Vintage
Leica M3 Portrait
Leica M3 + TMax 400
35mm Kodak TMax 400
Leica M3 + Nokton Classic
35mm Kentmere 100 Film

Sadly both rolls of Kodak T-Max 100 film I’d shot didn’t develop properly (massively under exposed) hence most of the film photos shared are from the same shoot.

Nikon FM

I have yet to develop the colour film shot in the Nikon FM SLR as most of my time has been going into Ironman triathlon training, hence this late post. Once developed I will be sure to share the results! 🙂

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Panasonic Lumix LX100

Panasonic Lumix LX100 (Leica D-Lux Typ 109)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

February 2017

Panasonic Lumix LX100 @ ISO 1600

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Purchase Recap

If you read my “Budapest 2017(2) – Leica vs Lumix” blog post you will know that I just bought myself a new Panasonic Lumix LX100 digital compact camera.

 

lumix-lx100

panasonic-lumix-dmc-lx100-digital-camera-black-6

If you didn’t read it as a very quick recap I misplaced my Leica M 240 battery charger when in Budapest on a model photography trip so bought myself a replacement / backup camera. Here is an extract from the aforementioned post –

.. “My mind then started to wander away from Leica cameras and onto other alternative camera options. I thought aha I could buy a small but capable camera to finish my model photography in Budapest and then use it as a vlog camera or camera to use for making Instagram videos / photos and also as a digital backup camera for travel. I wanted a camera with full manual controls, a hoteshoe and 4K video in a compact package. I will write a separate full review but I looked at a Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) camera and that lead me to buying a Panasonic Lumix LX100 camera with an equivalent 24-75mm f1.7-f2.8 fixed zoom lens”.

and as part of the summary at the end of the trip I wrote –

“Day 2 saw me using the new Panasonic Lumix LX100 camera. I was learning on the shoot so there were more blurry photos than when I use a Leica due to the auto focus and lag. That said the photos will look different to the Leica M 240 so I am excited to see and hope the photo quality is up to my needs. As I am used to Leica lenses and Leica sensors and also the 36MP Nikon D800 and my digital Hasselblad I guess my expectations and ‘needs’ are quite high in terms of image quality, resolution, sharpness and clarity. The little Panasonic Lumix LX100 has a lot to compete with. One fact that gives me some confidence is that the Lumix LX100 is pretty much identical to the Leica D-Lux Typ 109 (inside) and I know Leica will not put their name on a bad camera. That said the Lumix LX100 has a smaller 13MP micro four thirds CMOS sensor so it would be unfair to compare directly to my full frame digital camera sensors. I used the LX100 in manual mode for shutter, ISO and aperture but I didn’t discover how to manually focus until after the day’s photo shoots so the auto focus caused for a few miss shots. I also noticed my composition was much worse using the LX100 verses a Leica (so far)”.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 / Leica D-Lux
Lumix LX100

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – First Impressions

After using the Lumix LX100 for a day including model photography with agency models and freelance models here are my thoughts so far. I tried to summarise into two simple lists, pros and cons (for me and my taste only)*

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Pros

  • Macro photography – amazing! Can focus at 3cm distance to give a very shallow DOF
  • 1/2000 flash sync speed! – at f1.7-f2.8 and 1/4000 speed at f4-f16 (leaf shutter lens)
  • Hotshoe – a must for my strobist work
  • Small form factor – perfect travel camera
  • EVF option – good to use in bright light conditions instead of LCD
  • Aperture ring – great to see on a compact (makes it feel like a proper camera)
  • Full manual controls – a must for me
  • 4K video – same as the larger Lumix GH4 camera
  • 24-75mm fixed zoom lens – 24mm is perfect for wider shots and 75mm for portraits
  • f1.7-f2.8 lens aperture – f1.7 at 24mm to f2.8 for 75mm. f1.7 perfect in low light
  • Wifi connectivity – great to transfer photos directly to my iPhone for Instagram
  • ISO 100-25,600 – Impressive low light ability and good results at ISO1600
  • 13MP micro four thirds CMOS sensor – Sufficient resolution for A4 prints (for me)
  • Weight 393g – perfect lightweight camera to carry everywhere

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Cons

  • EVF lag – a Leica OVF is much better than the EVF for me. EVF too slow
  • Startup lag – slow compared to a Leica but useable
  • Battery capacity / life – said to take up to 350 photos per battery if using the LCD
  • Position of the video record button – awkward (for me)
  • No tilt and swivel LCD – so not great for selfies/ videoing handheld such as vlogging
  • No external mic jack (input) for microphone such as a Rode Video Mic or Zoom H1
  • Doesn’t use full size of micro four thirds sensor – crop options 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1
  • RAW files are affected by in camera settings such as crop selection and filters

Note. Panasonic Lumix LX100 vs. Leica D-Lux Typ 109

The Panasonic Lumix LX100 is near identical to it’s Leica twin camera, the Leica D-Lux Typ 109. Inside the cameras are extremely similar but with the Leica D-Lux using Leica software. On the exterior the Leica D-Lux has a much cleaner more sophisticated high end typical Leica look than the Lumix but the Lumix has a more practical and user friendly hand grip. For a lower cost I was more than happy to not consider the Leica D-Lux yet have knowledge that the LX100 uses the same Leica Summilux lens.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 (aka Leica D-Lux (Typ 109))

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – For Me

I have only covered a small percentage of the Lumix LX100 features that are important to me. There are many other settings the camera has which may interest you more such as frames per second rate or the details of the video setting options. The LX100 is not a new camera, released in 2014, so all of the above has already been documented many times before if you want more details after seeing this post. I just covered the basics of my experience and thoughts so far and with a Leica M camera background as a comparison.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Image Quality

After having time to review some of the Lumix LX100 photos from Budapest I can say that the photos were perhaps as good as can be expected. The LX100 image quality was sub-Leica M standard (because of the smaller sensor as an obvious reason) in terms of sharpness, resolution and clarity but the images are far from being offense to my eye. From the RAW images captured so far I would say as a sweeping statement, that the highlight detail is lost much easier, the images are rendered softer and the lens has more flare. The JPEG images look very good and have nice colour but the RAW files colours are less impressive when trying to recover in post. I took photos up to ISO 1600 so far and the results were useable/ good enough (even though there was less information to work with in post (without introducing too much grain).

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Ergonomics and Handling

I love the small form factor of the Lumix LX100 camera. The LX100 is smaller and lighter than a Leica M film camera and is more similar in size to my Olympus Pen-F half frame analogue camera. As a Leica photographer I find the LX100 camera has far more buttons than necessary and it feels a little cluttered but that said I was very thankful to see the aperture control ring and shutter dial. I think an ISO control dial instead of the exposure compensation dial would have suited me far better as a manual settings photographer. I really don’t like the position of the video record button and I found it very it extremely awkward but maybe I will get used to it in time. The camera is larger than a generic compact camera so wont fit into a small suit or trouser pocket but will easily pack into a larger jacket pocket or small camera bag.

As a rangefinder camera photographer I rely 100% on an optical viewfinder to focus and compose my photos. I have never been a big fan of an electronic viewfinder (“EVF”) so I was never tempted to get the Leica EVF for my Leica M240. The Panasonic Lumix LX100 EVF is better than a few I have had experience with but I struggled with the lag between photos. You really can’t appreciate how amazing an OVF is until you have used and EVF. With an OVF you can see everything all the time. I am reasonably particular when composing with a Leica camera but I noticed after seeing the Lumix photos on the computer that my composition (at the edges especially) was worse and less considered. I found with the LX100 that I started off using the EVF but later moved to using the LCD to focus instead. I guess I am now using the LCD to focus as if the camera was my iPhone rather than a ‘real’ camera. I found the LCD focusing approach more enjoyable than the EVF even if still a little foreign to me. It is early days with the LX100 camera so my preference may change.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Macro Photography

I used to love macro photography prior to specializing in portraiture and before I moved to Leica cameras. I miss macro work. Even my iPhone never lets me focus as close as I would like. The macro ability of the Lumix LX100 to me is perhaps it’s strongest feature focusing as close as 3cm at 24mm and giving beautifully shallow depth of field and bokeh that you might expect from a DSLR camera rather than a compact camera. Very impressed.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Flash Sync Speed

The LX100 camera with its leaf shutter lens boosts an amazing 1/2000 flash sync speed for apertures from f1.7 to f2.8 and 1/4000 flash sync speed for apertures f4-f16. I have yet to use this feature but it excites me a great deal. My Leica M 240 maximum flash sync speed is only 1/180 and even my digital Hasselblad is only 1/800. As a photographer that enjoys using off camera flash this is exciting stuff!

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Fills the Void

As I have quite a few cameras already, all of which are arguably ‘better’ and higher spec’d than the little Lumix LX100 how will it fit in. The Leica M240 is my main camera for everything, whether portrait sessions, fashion photography or Leica wedding photography. My other digital cameras are used from time to time, the Leica M8 at Leica weddings for example, the digital Hasselblad on bright days using strobes when size and weight is no issue and the Nikon D800 as a general backup camera. With a love for film cameras rather than digital I tend to use the Leica M240 to do a test shot and then often take the important photos with a film camera.

So the LX100. What can it bring to the table. Surprisingly a great deal for my needs. It might be clearer to list the uses I have in mind for my new Lumix.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Uses for Me

Macro photography

More specifically detail photos of cameras and equipment for blogging and Instagram

Wifi connectivity

Can take better photos than an iPhone and upload to social media without a computer

Test photos before shooting film

The LX100 is better than a light meter and smaller and lighter than a digital Leica

Behind the scenes photos/ videos

I can operate the LX100 camera with my iPhone to capture BTS footage

Vlogging

I enjoy teaching photography so will use the camera to capture more short videos

Video footage

Whether of a model or otherwise it adds an extra dimension to my work

Small size so carry everywhere

I am more likely to carry this camera with me than any other because of the size

Travel camera

Great for my overseas trips where size and weight matters

Family photos

Perfect for spontaneous and fun family photos that can be shared via Wifi

Backup camera

I will now use this as a digital backup camera for overseas model photography trips

For fun

A Leica camera is a serious piece of equipment whereas the Lumix is more a fun camera

Model photography

The LX100 photos are to me good enough to use for my model photography shoots

Wedding photography

The LX100 camera will now join me for wedding photography assignments too

Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Summary

As you can see I am quite impressed with the Panasonic Lumix LX100. Yes it is not Leica M quality but then it is not Leica M cost either. Every camera has their strengths and weaknesses and I look forward to using the Lumix LX100 for when the Leica M camera is less suited. I will write a follow up review once I have spent more time with the LX100 camera but exciting times ahead and I think new and different work coming soon to my Instagram feed (@MrLeicaCom).

Non-model Test Photos (Lightroom Exports)

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II
Leica M4-P
Olympus Pen-F

Film vs. Digital

Using the micro four thirds sensor Lumix LX100 camera really lets me appreciate my film cameras.  The resolution of even a classic grain film stock such as Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 still exceeds the resolution of  the digital camera sensor at this level (from my own personal experience*).  Don’t underestimate film if you have never used it! 🙂

Lumix – Full Circle

My first serious camera was the interchangeable lens Panasonic Lumix G1.  I taught myself the basics of photography using the Lumix G1.  I later bought a used Lumix G3 to try for a short period.  Now onto the Lumix LX100!

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Reunited!! Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 :D

I just dug this old self portrait shot from the Flickr archives as it shows me using probably my favourite lens of all time. The Voigtlander (Nokton) 40mm f1.4 lens. It is ultra compact, really well made, super sharp and a joy to use. The Lumix G1 was my first ‘proper’ camera and from that developed my all consuming photography passion that is now a huge part of my life.

voigtlander 40mm f1.4

I remember the Nokton Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 arriving and I fitted in to my red Lumix G1 instead of the usual 14-45mm Lumix kit lens (via a Leica M- M42 adapter). WOW! I was blown away by the quality and shallow DOF. The kit lens started collecting dust and my collection of primes began. It was a dark day when I decided to move to the Nikon camp in search of bigger and better. What saddened me most was not parting with the Lumix G1, though it had served me well, but the fact that I could not use the Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 with Nikon bodies.

That was 2010. Now 2013 things have changed some what. I now own many cameras and lenses, have a studio, shoot as a model photographer and wedding photographer and also teach photography courses and lighting workshops. Not only that but I now shoot 35mm and medium format film.

Today I was chatting with a like minded photographer and we got onto the subject of his Leica M9. As i strive for ultimate perfection in my photography work i’m always looking for bigger and better. I’ve never owned a Leica or even held one but I know they are good. In part because of the great lenses available.

Can you see a link approaching..!? 🙂

After my friend left I got on ebay.. Leica M3.M4.. hmm. I wanted a 35mm film body so was looking at the older models. I then stumbled across a mint condition Voigtlander Bessa R3A…with…a..Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 lens with it! SOLD to the man with the finger on the buy it now button! ME! I couldn’t risk losing the bid.

Voigtlander Bessa R3A

So coming soon will be model photography using my nearly new all singing all dancing Voigtllander Bessa R3A using the amazing Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 optics! Excited!

Here are some of my favourite Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 shots taken with my Panasonic Lumix G1 (before my model photography passion):

At the Side of the Road
Drinking abroad (before)
Rush hour sunrise
Summer Meadow
Seeds in the air
It's going to be a beautiful day :)
Ilam Park
Just a log

Nokton Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 + Raynox 250 macro lens on Lumix G1 (My passion used to be macro!)
Chalkhill Blue (2)
#7 Peekaboo!
Spring Barbed Wire
Clematis leaf
Nokton 40mm / Raynox 250 combo #3

Lastly, look out for a slightly modified version of this photo with a dafodil on the swing as Marie Curie charity are using it as their 2013 photo.
With a View

Ken Rockwell’s thoughts on a Voigtlander 40mm.. “I never thought it would come to this, but this Voigtländer lens is better than Nikon’s own lenses: it has better optics, better mechanics, and better ergonomics. How about that!”

Yep..as I said! 🙂

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk