Leica Weddings

Leica Weddings

Matthew Osborne Photography / http://www.LeicaWeddingPhotographer.co.uk

Sorry I have not shared any of my Leica wedding photography recently.  I am struggled to find free time to write but they are on my to do list together with many other topics to write up.  Wedding photos in the pipeline include:

2014: Marv & Paula (Florida) (Still to share)

#Leica #wedding #weddingphotographer - Congratulations to Marv & Paula today! :) www.LeicaWeddingPhotographer.co.uk

2015: Mike & Caroline (UK)

Kodak Portra Wedding Photography

2015: Dan & Amelia (UK)

Leica Wedding Photography

2015: Karen & Chris (UK)

2015: Andy & Andy (Latest – Yesterday!)

Ufton Court Wedding

Next: Dave & Amanda

2015 Wedding Camera Gear

In terms of camera equipment for wedding photography, it changes every shoot but I still use my digital Leica M9 as my main camera. I tend not to take my Leica M8 now as I was carrying too many cameras.  I normally take at least one medium format film cameras and always my 1950s Leica M3(s) and Leica M2 analogue film cameras.  I still have my Nikon D800 DSLR so have that with me as a backup just in case the M9 dies.

Lenses for weddings also vary each shoot but to give you an idea, for yesterday’s wedding I took the following Leica M lenses:

  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.2 ASPH
  • Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8
  • Zeiss Biogon 21mm f2.8
  • Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5
  • Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 Collapsible + SOOKY-M
  • Leica Summicron DR 50mm f2 (attached to my Leica M3)

(I didn’t take a 75mm or 90mm on this occasion).

Thanks

Advertisements

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 🙂

Leica M9 vs Fuji XT1!

Leica M9 vs Fuji XT1!

Matthew Osborne Photography

I was teaching in the studio today and the photographer brought his Fuji XT-1 along to use.  I know many Leica photographers use Fuji cameras as a backup camera or as a cheaper alternative but I have never really given them any thought to be honest.  I know they can take nice images but there has never actually been enough interest there for me read up on them.

Today I saw a Fuji camera up close in action and to be honest I was a bit surprised and less than impressed.  The Fuji XT1 camera seemed to have a million different menus that hindered the photographer from being able to do what you want to do with a camera and that is take a simple photo. I was teaching portrait photography using speedlights and in this instance his lens was stopped down to perhaps f5.6 or f8.  He mentioned it was difficult to compose photos accurately as there was no constant image on the LCD (other than a brief preview that flashed on and off).  This was crazy to me.  How can you use a camera when you can’t see what you are taking a photo of?  I realise in brighter conditions or with the lens at a wider aperture this issue would be resolved but they are many occasions when you might be shooting in low light.  At a wedding for example you really do need to have your photo composed ‘correctly’ and in focus so you need to be able to see. (Original paragraph reworded to avoid confusion).

New photographers have absolutely no hope of learning photography with a camera like this.  They just get bambozelled by the menus before they can even start.  I guess this goes for some DSLR cameras but I found Nikon cameras easy to use in the past.

It really highlighted to me how valuable it is to shoot with film caemeras if you want to actually learn photography and improve your skills.  An old film camera only has a few settings to control – shutter speed, aperture and film choice / ISO.  The next best thing after film to me and from my experience is using a Leica M8 or Leica M9.  They share much of the simplicity of film cameras yet they have a digital output.  Learning with only a film camera can be slow as you need to remember the conditions and settings used for each photo for when you get your film developed.  With digital cameras you can see instantly the effects of changing aperture, shutter speed and ISO and the different looks achieved using different lenses or lighting.

In a professional photographer’s hands i’m sure the Fuji XT1 can be a useful tool and I know it can produce good photos.  For beginners however or someone wanting to go beyond a point and shoot automatic camera I highly recommend you try a Leica M8 / Leica M9 or get yourself a cheap film camera to use along side your Fuji camera.  That way you can start to appreciate photography and as learn with the film camera you can then improve your photos with the digital camera too.

*This is only based on my own experiences but I really was not impressed.

Here is a Leica M9 shot from today with model Becca helping me

Leica M9 Studio Photography

Leica M3 – The Ultimate Rangefinder!?

Leica M3 – The Ultimate Rangefinder!?

Matthew Osborne Photography

Fuji GF670 vs Leica M3

As a follower of this blog you will know I am a Leica M9 35mm digital rangefinder shooter.  I recently decided to search for a camera one step closer to ‘perfection’ in terms of rangefinder cameras so invested in a Fuji GF670 Pro medium format film rangefinder (6×6 / 6×7 format).  A folding camera with a medium format size sensor and a super sharp lens. It produces beautifully big 6×6 negatives with tonnes of detail when scanned.  It is portable and i can use it will off camera strobes with a leaf shutter sync speed of 1/500.  I thought it was pretty cool.

I then bought a 1950s Leica M3 35mm film rangefinder with a 0.91x viewfinder.  It looks near identical to my Leica M2 and for the most part all the benefits are the same for the M2 and the M3.  The biggest plus of the M3 is the viewfinder. I have a lot of cameras and it is without doubt my favourite on any camera.  Big clear and bright with easy to see 50mm framelines and nothing else cluttering the viewfinder.  I paired the M3 with a Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens with a E39 filter thread.

Film Photography Wedding – the M3 vs GF 670 Head-to-head!

This weekend I had a Leica wedding here in the UK and offered the couple the option of some film photography in addition to digital Leica M9 images.  They were interested and purchased the film photography wedding package option so I took the Fuji GF670 loaded with colour 120  Fuji Pro 400H film and then the Leica M3 loaded with black and white 35mm film, Kodak T-Max 100.  I didn’t let the three cameras (M9 + M3 + GF670) distract me from the wedding photography task so waited and brought them out for the wedding portrait images (plus a few bridal prep shots).  I then had to chose when to shoot colour and when B&W film, and when 6×6 format and when 6×4 format.  What I noticed straight away was the little Leica M3 fitted my hand like it was made to go there.  Using the M3 was intuitive and felt natural (possible because I have used the M9 so much!).  I was using natural light with the M3 but off camera speedlight for some of the GF670 shots.  It made me realise that sometimes you don’t need all the fancy lights, big lenses, and larger camera sensors, I just needed the little M3, the 50mm Cron and some available light.  It is fast and is kind of an extension from your arm / eyes.  No fuss, no electronics, just beautifully pure photography.  By keeping it simple the photos flowed, the wedding couple forgot the camera and the natural poses and relaxed smiles followed.

A ‘cute’ elegant vintage film camera is far less scary than a big DLSR with a 70-200mm lens stuck on the front.  The little M3 actually became a talking point and was a welcomed sight for a number of the wedding guests.

All the above applies to the Leica M2 if I used a 35mm lens with the 35mm viewfinder.  I have used the Leica M2 this year for various model shoots.

I wasn’t expecting the Leica M3 to have such an impact but it is letting me appreciate photography in the simplest form.  I can transfer this mentality into the rest of my photography such as using the M9 with one small lens.  It has also let me evaluate how I shoot and how I will approach future weddings when shooting film.

Despite my raving on I guess the prove will be in the resulting wedding images.  The colour film will be lab developed and the black and white film developed at home by me using the film developer Rodinal.  Once all developed and scanned I will share some samples and a follow up post.

Model photography sample images

  • GF670 6×6 medium format film

#FilmIsNotDead

FUJI GF670 Analogue Rangefinder

GF670 Kodak Moment

  • 35mm Leica film – Leica M2

Leica M2 Film Portrait

35mm B&W Film Portrait - Leica M2

Leica M2 Film - unedited

..Don’t get me wrong.  The Fuji GF670 can produce stunning negatives but you just don’t get the same flow you get with the Leica M3 when operating the camera.

Related Posts

Leica M3

Leica M2

Fuji GF670

Film OR Digital, Not Both!

Film OR Digital, Not Both!

Matthew Osborne Photography

I am a big fan of film photography, 35mm Leicas and various medium format film cameras.  I much prefer the results of film over digital, whether colour film or black and white.  What annoys me the most is I shoot very little film as a percentage of the total number of photos I shoot.  I often try to have a film camera with me when using my digital Leica M9.   The problem I find is two or three hours may pass, the model shoot has finished and I get so caught up in the moment with digital I forget to shoot any film.

On a recent trip abroad I was doing some street photography.

Day One

On the first day I took three cameras, the usual! Two film cameras (Leica M2 and Fuji GF670 Pro) and the digital Leica M9.  I also had four Leica M lenses with me to chose from.  As a result I wasted far to much time trying to decide what equipment to use and camera back with mostly digital photos.

Day Two

I only packed two film cameras plus the Sekonic light meter, leaving the Leica M9 at home.

(1) The 35mm Leica M2 film camera with 50mm Leica Summicron f2 lens attached (+ 1.4x viewfinder magnifier from my Leica M9)(to give me a similar view to the Leica M3) loaded with black and white Kodak T-Max 100 film.

(2) The medium format film Fuji GF670 folding camera loaded with colour 120 Kodak Portra film with the 6×6 format selected.  (the camera gives the option of 6×6 or 6×7 but I prefer square format).

I metered the light on arrival in the shadows and then put the light meter away for the rest of the day.  I knew I would be shooting mostly in the shadow of the buildings plus film tends to retain highlight detail more than digital.  I started with the Leica M2 shooting B&W, looking for rectangular composition and where the light played a big part of the image.  I then switched to my Fuji GF670 and instead started to look for strong colours in the frame and a square composition.  The Fuji GF 670 is much more modern vs. the M2 so has a light meter to help you get the correct exposure.  That said, film is so forgiving I do not worry too much if I am +1 /+2 or -1 / -2 over or under exposed by guessing the exposure using the Leica M2.

Results

By only having one lens on each camera and only film cameras I was 100% focused on each photo I was taking.  I didn’t have two cameras around my neck.  One in use in my hand and the other packed safely away in my Billingham bag so not to be a distraction.  I had an enjoyable walk with the cameras and came away much more satisfied that when I shot potentially similar images with the digital Leica M9 the day before.

Conclusion

I think the key to ‘success’ is if I want to shoot film then I must put the digital camera away and use one film camera at a time, not try to juggle one in each hand and have the Leica M9 around my neck.

Film Photography

After having recently bought the medium format film Fuji GF670 and now also the 35mm film Leica M3 I am more determined than ever to start shooting more film.  I find it just as easy as shooting digital and film is more forgiving in terms of latitude (if I can only list one advantage of film over digital!)

Five rolls of C41 film are due back from the lab imminently so I will get some new examples posted soon once scanned, including the first images from the Fuji GF670 that I am very excited to see!

Matt

Related Posts

2x Leica M9’s, 50mm Redundant

2x Leica M9’s, 50mm Redundant – First Wedding with 2 Leica M9 Cameras!

Matt Osborne (“Mr Leica”)

On Saturday I covered Dutch photographer and fellow Leica M9 shooter Patrick and his now wife Sam’s wedding at Upper House, Hayfield in the Peak District.  Patrick is a successful architect with a keen eye for detail so the pressure was really on this time!

Wedding Photography – One Camera

I normally shoot with a single Leica M9 and have a Nikon D800 in the car as a back up camera.  Using one Leica M body keeps things simple and me nice and mobile.  For the last few weddings I used the 50mm Leica Noctilux f1.0 as my main lens for as much of the day as possible shooting it wide open.  I have a Leica M8 but the rangefinder suddenly shifted out of focus six months plus ago so it is currently out of action.  The only problem with one camera and prime lenses is if I want to quick do a wide shot then say a telephoto shot such as during speeches or the first dance I have to quickly change lenses.  Although this can be done very quickly and on the go there is always a chance I might miss something.

Wedding Photography – Two Camera Bodies

As I knew Patrick also had a Leica M9 body I asked if I could use it for the day to give me two Leica M9 cameras and a similar setup to what I used in my pre-Leica days when I used a Nikon D800 and a Nikon D700.  Patrick agreed so I was all set for the day.  I knew the indoor photos would be in some tight spaces so wanted wide angle lenses on one body and then telephoto lens on the other to get closer to the action when I wasn’t able to on foot.

Lens Choice (for the 95% of the day*)

Camera 1 (M9)

  • 21mm – Carl Zeiss Biogon 21mm f2.8
  • 28mm – Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f2

Camera 2 (M9)

  • 75mm – Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO
  • 90mm – Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH

*There were a few photos taken with the Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH and some also with the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4.

Verdict

When using one camera for wedding photography my most used focal length is 50mm, then followed by 35mm.  When I had two camera bodies for a wedding both of these FL were hardly used.  I really enjoyed the 28f2 / 90f2 combo for much of the day and I think I kept the ISO on both cameras at ISO 200 all day despite it being typical overcast British weather.  I am happy using slow shutter speeds and enjoy using off camera lighting.

Anything else new?

Yes, my style continues to evolve.  For my last 2 or 3 Leica weddings shot over the summer I used my Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 wide open for much of the day.  That followed the same style of my model photography that was also taken at the widest lens apertures to give the shallow depth of field look.  Recently, and perhaps since getting my Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO I have started to enjoy stopping my lenses down my lenses to give sharper results.  The model photography photos take on more of a fashion look in my eyes when they are sharper.  I often use any apertures from f2.8 to f11 depending on the lens. The lens I stop down the most is the Leica Elmar 135mm f4 as it can be softer at wider apertures.  This was the first wedding since my current taste had changed so many of the photos were shot at f2.8-f5.6 on the day where in the past I aimed to shoot wide open as much as possible.

Here is the first sample from Sam and Patrick’s wedding, taken of the beautiful Sam just before she met her Dad to walk down the isle.

Leica Wedding

Would I buy a second Leica M9 for weddings?

Not at this stage but I think I will get my Leica M8 repaired and use that as my second Leica M body for wide angle shots.  The 1.33x crop factor of the M8 would make my Zeiss Biogon 21/2.8 the equivalent of a 28mm f2.8 lens on the M9 which is perfect for my needs.  This is what I started to do when I first bought the M8.

See my Leica weddings and engagement photography on my sister site, http://www.LeicaWeddingPhotographer.co.uk

Shared: The Leica Meet

Shared: The Leica Meet

http://www.MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk

 

The Leica Meet group website have a fortnightly featured photographer on their website and shared via their Facebook group.  The group founders and fellow Leica photographers Stephen Cosh, Gavin Mills and Olaf Willoughby contacted me and asked if I would like to be their featured photographer.  I jumped at the chance and feel honoured to even be considered when up against such talented Leica photographers.

You can see me on the Leica Meet website here, posted Sunday August 3, 2014 – LeicaMeet

 

Wedding news..

I covered two more Leica weddings over the last two days so plenty more new Leica M9 wedding photography examples in the pipeline, and with a different selection of lenses.. Yesterday’s lens of the day was my almost forgotten Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f2 lens.  I am currently preferring the 28mm focal length to 35mm which somehow seems too tight.

As usual I will post full wedding gallery images to my sister blog once edited – www.leicaweddingphotography.co.uk

 

Wedding teaser from yesterday, Gem & Ted

Singing in the Rain!