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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Leica M 240 – It Wont Be Missed

Leica M 240 – It Wont Be Missed

..(& my Photography Journey so far)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

#excited 😁 I just found out that the Leica Summicron 50 DR with its close focus goggles will fit on my Leica M Typ 240! It doesn't fit on a M9 or M8. #result! #leicam #leicam240 #leicacamera #leicacraft #leicasphere #leica #summicron #summicrondr #ra

January 2016

My photography journey is now perhaps into it’s 8th year.  I started with digital cameras and worked my way through a Lumix G1, Nikon D90, Nikon D700, Nikon D800 but still wanted something more.  I tried my late Grandad’s Yasica MG-1 35mm film camera and then started looking at other film cameras. I bought a Contax 645 medium format film camera, ARAX-CM (Kiev 88), Mamiya RZ67 to name a few and then I bought a digital Leica M9.

Leica M9

The Leica M9 Kodak CCD sensor produced filmic looking images straight out of the camera without any need for hours of Photoshop or efforts in the dark room.  The Leica M9 pretty much killed my film photography journey for perhaps 12 months.  I then slowly started getting back into film cameras and new camera purchases included vintage 1950s Leica cameras like the Leica M3 and Leica M2. I also bought two large format 4×5 film cameras, a Pacemaker Speed Graphic and Sinar F2. I find I cycle between 35mm film, medium format and large format. Each format have their strengths and drawbacks.

Leica M 240

The next chapter in my photography journey was when my Leica M9 started to fail me.  The rangefinder became misaligned, it was quite bruised and battered from so much use anyway and the sensor needed replacing. I decided to say goodbye to the M9 and part ex’d it in for a new digital Leica M Typ 240. Initially I was excited by the M240.

As quickly as the Leica M9 had killed my film photography I think the Leica M 240 has killed my digital photography.  I would describe the M240 as producing equally unexciting photos as my Nikon D800.  Both are good cameras with many positives but neither make me want to take a photo for enjoyment.   The Leica M 240 is now only used on my model photography shoots for test shots and to warm up the models.  The photos are fine and the girls use them for their portfolio images but I may only use one or two as preview images until the ‘proper’ film photos are developed.

Upgrading

At roughly the same time as my Leica M 240 purchase I was experiencing a string of frustrating film camera issues.  The Leica M3 rangefinder also needed recalibrating, the Mamiya 645 was misfocusing, the Rollei SL66E film back was not taking the film, the Fuji GS645 had a sticking shutter, the Mamiya RZ battery always seemed to be flat. The list went on.  I decided to get a more modern 35mm film camera, a Nikon F4 SLR. I liked the photos and camera to use but wanted more resolution.   That lead me to buy another more modern film camera, a Fuji GA645.  The Fuji GA645 images were excellent but the camera is not that exciting to use. The search continued.

Hasselblad

During all the time I have been buying and lusting after different cameras I have not once considered a Hasselblad.  I’m not sure why,  I think I always wanted the greatest shallow depth of field so went for cameras like the Contax 645 and Mamiya 645 using faster lenses. Many Hasselblad lenses are f4 widest aperture and I was used to using  f1, f1.2, f1.4 on the 35mm Leica cameras.  I already had four 6×6 film cameras, ARAX-CM, Rollei SL66E, Fuji GF670 in 6×6 format and the Mamiya RZ with a 6×6 film back attached. Again, all nice cameras but none were perfect and I think it is that that lead me to a 500 Series Hasselblad.

If the Leica M 240 killed my digital photography then the Hasselblad 501C hammered home the final nail in the coffin.   The Hasselblad has single handedly transformed my photography for the better.  Of all the cameras I use I think only the Leica M9 had such a positive impact on my photography.  So what changed?

I enjoy composing the 6×6 Hasselblad square format and the Zeiss lenses give me the high resolution film images I like.  At f4 the subject detail is super sharp yet the background can still melt away.  The camera size makes it portable for location shoots yet slow enough to be selective about the photos I capture.

After experiencing the quality of a Hasselblad camera I then bought a 35mm Hasselblad XPan rangefinder.  (Blog post to follow).

The Leica M 240 wont be missed

So I started by saying the Leica M 240 wont be missed so where is it you may ask?  If you saw my recent New York (II) workshop blog post you may have noticed I took a digital Leica M8 (and my new Leica M6 film camera) not the M240.  Well in addition to losing all interest in the Leica M 240 images (due to the flat and uninteresting photos that require far too much time in post processing to create something worth sharing) I also noticed the M 240 rangefinder was out of alignment.  My M240 is currently with the engineers in Leica Germany and so the Leica M8 has stepped up to the mark as my digital camera for model photoshoots.

I think for the first 6 months of using the M 240 I ignored the fact that the photos looked like the Nikon D800 CMOS sensor photos.  Photos took a lot of work in Lightroom but I could usually get something from it to share.  I then recently went back to shooting B&W JPEGs (plus RAW) in the Leica M8 and it brought back the amazing memories of how I used to shoot when I first bought the Leica M9.  I could shoot 200+ photos with a model and have them emailed to her within an hour of her leaving the studio.  That alone shows how good the Leica CCD sensor is, whether Leica M8 or Leica M9.  Photos just come out the camera ready to share without hours wasted in front of a computer.  When I am using a digital camera to test the last thing I need is to then waste hours editing before I can give the photos to a model when I want to spend my time developing and scanning film.

You might say at this stage well stop moaning about it and just buy another Leica M9 and sell the M 240 or better still sell the Leica M 240 and buy an enlarger to start printing my own film images with!  The problem I face is some clients want modern digital photos in colour and for that the Leica M240 does a better job than the Nikon D800 in my hands.  Until I can persuade all wedding couples to request only film photography images I plan to keep the Leica M 240 for wedding photography as the camera does have some advantages over the M9.  The M240 is a nice camera it just has a very boring sensor.

The Leica M 240 sensor captures lots of information in a very flat way making images great as a project to work on for hours in Photoshop but not the instant gratification of the Leica M8 / M9 I desire. I like to create images in camera not in computer.  The M240 is a camera where perhaps 50% of the image is created in camera, 50% in computer.  The Leica M9/ M8 B&W JPEGs can be created 95-99% in camera and I would say my black and white film images are 88% in camera/film developing, 2% scanning, 10% in computer to remove dust and do any basic darkroom style adjustments.

I hope Leica can release a digital camera in the future that excites me as much as the Leica M8/ M9 do but at the moment the future for me is looking like film.  As probably expected I have not missed the Leica M240 being away for repair.  When I had the Leica M9 I don’t think I could have imagined not having it with me. (That is why I used the M9 for over a year with a faulty sensor).  Big difference!

(Leica M8 images blog in the pipeline to show what M8 black and white JPEG looks like).

Leica M9 Part Exchanged for Leica M 240

Leica M9 Part Exchanged for Leica M 240

Matthew Osborne Photography

August 2015

After buying a used Leica M9 camera two years ago today I bid it farewell when I part exchanged the M9 for a brand new Leica M Typ 240. https://www.flickr.com/photos/32681588@N03/20411540031

Leica M 240 – Why the sudden purchase!?

How did this come about you may ask considering I liked the Leica M9 and my heart is in film photography not digital photography?  I noticed my M9 camera rangefinder needed slight adjustment to get sharp focus at apertures wider than say f4. This is why I took the Nikon D800 to Poland and Ukraine as the M9 was not useable. A Flickr follower, Wolfgang then advised my that Leica Germany had a good part exchange deal. I contacted my friend Jimmy at the Leica Mayfair London store and he said they to had a similar part exchange offer on for the Leica M9. https://www.flickr.com/photos/32681588@N03/20207868168

Leica M 240 – Offer details

Leica currently has a fixed price offer for a M9 suffering from a delaminated CCD sensor coating – Pay £2250 and exchange your M9 for a new Leica M Typ 240. The price of a new Leica Typ 240 camera is £4650 in Jessops (to put things in perspective!) (link below). Considering how well used my M9 camera was (high shutter count and strong signs of use including a chipped/ cracked screen), the fact that the M9 CCD sensor had been diagnosed as suffering from delamiantion and needed replacing and the rangefinder needed recalibrating it really was too good an offer to refuse! I find film cameras (Leica film cameras but also medium format and large format cameras) far more rewarding and enjoyable to use compared to modern digital cameras so some people might think I’m crazy to spend a lot of money on a camera that doesn’t really interest me. You would be correct if it was for personal use only but when shooting with model agencies or offering Leica wedding photography I need high quality digital images in addition to film.  I already have a 36MP Nikon D800 but I can operate a Leica rangefinder camera more accurately and quicker and the Leica M mount lenses tend to offer superior optics (across the board)(I recently bought macro lenses for the Nikon to achieve a level of sharpness I was acustom to with Leica). As I have written before, I can achieve sharp focus at f1.0 (using the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens) with relative ease on a calibrated Leica body yet I misfocus f2.8-f4 with manual focus lenses on the Nikon (especially at greater distances).  It is for that reason why I am 100% tied in to the Leica M rangefinder camera system.

Leica M 240 – Interest and expection was low

Considering the high cost and me being, in theory a “Leica Fanboy”, I wasnt really that excited by the thoughts of the new Leica M Typ 240 camera purchase. I was far more excited when I fixed the focus issue on my Mamiya 645 Super medium format film camera on Friday!  The Leica M purchase was more a job that needed doing ahead of my next wedding (so asap!). I arranged the purchase with the Leica Mayfair store a week in advance and during that time I read up on reviews such as ‘Leica M9 vs Leica M 240’ and asked questions on camera forums like ‘Did anyone buy a Leica M 240 and regret it’.  I then came up with the idea of buying the Leica M 240 then selling it wth zero accuations and buying another used M9. I contacted a shop that sold used Leica cameras and once we did the maths and took VAT into consideration it didn’t really make sense so I decided for now (at least) to keep the new M. I guess it is a bit like driving a taxi for a living.  You have you existing car that you know and love.  You know it’s strengths and weaknesses and have learnt to love it’s little quirks.  The car has been reliable since purchase despite the now high mileage but it suddenly fails it’s MOT.  The garage offers you a brand new car replacement on a new government scrappage scheme for half it’s list price. It has the same german build quality and same excellent customer service yet has no miles on the clock and benefits fromt the latest technology.  Would you say no!?

Leica M 240 – First Impressions

I said farewell to the M9 and hello to the M 240.  I decided to buy a silver  (“chrome”) Leica M rather than black to match my Leica M3s /M2 film cameras.  (I still have the black M8 also).  I didn’t need the manual and soon found my way around the settings from using a Leica M9.  I’ve read many Leica M 240 reviews and people normally always find something to moan about when comparing to an M9. From a handling perspective I quite liked the new thumb roller dial and bulge in body to act as a thumb rest.  I used the “Thumbie” accessory on the M9 body and didn’t notice a real difference.  I love the quieter shutter sound of the M 240. It will be perfect for church weddings yet is still audible.  The near silent shutter of my Fuji GF670 is just unnerving!  The 3 inch LCD screen is amazingly sharp and much welcomed.  The slight increase in size and weight wasn’t noticed and the larger battery capacity will be great for location shoots and weddings.  The optical viewfinder works as well as the M9 and I fitted my 1.4x Leica viewfinder magnifier to it straight away.  The lack of framelines in the viewfinder with the camera switched off is not a problem as I only use the camera when it is switched on.  So far so good it seems!

Leica M 240 – CMOS vs CCD

The Leica M 240 24MP CMOS sensor certainly produces nice sharp images but the CCD vs CMOS sensor is a debate for anothe blog post once I have used the camera more.

Testing new camera - Leica M Typ 240 + Noctilux. On location photoshoot with Mahi #leicam #leicam240 #leica #noctilux #backofcamera #model #photoshoot - Full details to follow on blog later - www.MrLeica.com

Leica M 240 – First Sample Images

(3 different lenses used – Noctilux, Noctilux, Summarit 50/1.5, Voigtlander 15mm)

Leica M Typ 240 + Noctilux

Leica M 240 + Noctilux Portrait

Leica M Typ 240 + Summarit

Leica M Typ 240 Street Photography

Leica M 240 – Related Links

(If you have the time and interest read them in order listed as you will see my opinion change (as date of writing, oldest first).  Second link has much more spec detail*).

Sony A7R vs Leica M9

Sony A7R vs Leica M9

My thoughts only, sorry no example images

July 2015

Sony A7R vs Leica M9

I ran a model photography workshop in London on Saturday and the photographer brought along his full frame Sony A7R camera.  I often hear good reviews about the Sony and Fuji cameras from Leica photographers using these bodies as a backup body or as a more affordable alternative.  I have had photographers bring the Fuji XT1 and the Sony A7R to the workshops before but I have never really taken much interest as my heart in in film photography (and digital Leicas).

The photographer owning the Sony A7R was keen to see how I worked and also see my Leica cameras.  I had with me the digital Leica M9 and Leica M8 bodies and was using the Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens.  He had the Sony A7R with the Sony Zeiss FE 55mm f1.8 lens and also an old Leica Summicron 90mm f2 R lens with an Sony adapter.

We met the model and took similar photos side by side with our own cameras.  Over lunch we reviewed the Leica M8, Leica M9 and Sony AR7 images on a laptop full screen in Lightroom.  Small size the Sony A7R images look OK.  If i’m honest from a small size images I could not tell you what modern camera they were taken with, Fuji, Sony, Nikon.  (Canon photos usually have an orange pink tinge so are easier to identify!)  When we compared the Leica M9 colours to those from the Sony A7R the M9 colours were more natural looking with slightly better skin tones.  I was still not offended by the Sony images.

We then viewed the Sony A7R JPEG and RAW 100% zoomed in and I was shocked.  I am used to seeing the film like grain of the Leica M9 (and Leica M8) DNG and JPEG files when I zoom in.  It looks quite ‘real’ desite being an electronic image and reminds me more of film negative scans.  The Sony RAW and JPEG files however just looked like a mass of coloured noise with little structure.  It looked very artificial and computer generated.. of course it is but the Leica files look less so.  I have owned Nikon cameras for years, and before Leicas so am well aware how the Nikon NEF files look.  If I had to try to compare simply I would say the 18MP Leica M9 and 10MP Leica M8 DNG files are the most real looking, then followed by the 36MP Nikon D800 that gives a sharper and more modern look yet still the RAW files appear ‘real’ when viewed zoomed in, and lastly the Sony A7R files that look the least real.  For my taste the Sony images look too computer generated and not at all to my liking.  I like the look of film photography so it makes sense that the most filmic looking digital images are my favourites, from the Leica M9 and Leica M8.

Interestingly, we discussed the Sony A7R images and this very modern ‘over processed’ look and the photographer showed me some photos taken with an old Mamiya RZ lens on the Sony A7R via an adapter.  To me these images were far far better than the images produced with the Sony 55/1.8 lens.  They had more of a realness to them.  I think the problem is that when there is a Sony lens on the Sony A7R the in camera computer is doing so much manipulating of the files that it results in very over processed straight out the camera images.  When there in a non-Sony lens used with an adapter that doesn’t talk to the camera there is less in camera processing so the resulting image is nearer to what you can see with the naked eye.

In conclusion, if I had to have the high ISO ability and all the other mod cons of the Sony A7R or keep my old Leica M8 then M8 would win hands down despite it’s flaws.  For a more fair comparison, the Leica M9 vs Sony A7R, the M9 colours and rendering of the images is far more real and natural looking to my eye so I would never be tempted by the Sony.

(Only my opinion but I am glad I had the oppotunity to see the side by side comparison).

Sorry I do not have any Sony A7R images to share but there will be plenty to review on Flickr i’m sure.  For Leica M8 and Leica M9 example images you can find plenty of samples both on my blog and on Flickr.

Here are two examples from the workshop (more for the rendering than the colours!)

Leica M8 + Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 (DNG B&W conversion)

Leica M8 B&W

Leica M9 + Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 (DNG & colours made more satured in PP)

Leica M9  -  Is back!

(I’m sure many Sony users will disagree with our observations or point out that the colours of the Leica M9 image shared are far from natural but this blog is just my opinion based on my own experiences).

Poland Model Photography – June 2015

Poland Model Photography – June 2015

Matthew Osborne Photography (“Mr Leica”)

Mr Leica Agency Shoot Poland

The Trip

I am just back from another 4 days shooting in Sopot, Poland.  I stayed in my favourite hotel on Sopot beach, Hotel Bursztyn, and teamed up with Malva Model agency girls again and also with models from 2 other model agencies.  Some new faces and a few you may recognise.  Some of the regulars were away shooting in Asia / elsewhere in Europe so I hope to catch them next time if they are home.

Packing!

As usual, the hardest part of the trip is packing beforehand trying to decide what cameras / lenses to take.  Right until the last minute the plan was to take my usual Leica M9, a Leica M3 and then take the Nikon F4 SLR to try.  I was then stuck with what Nikon mount lens(es) to take for the Nikon F4 as I needed a 50mm (do everything lens) but also wanted to take my new Tokina 100mm f2.8 lens.  I then started to consider taking the Nikon D800 instead of the Leica M9 as kind of a test to myself.  Can I like the photos from the Nikon D800 CMOS sensor again?  It has been over 18 months since I moved to from shooting with the Nikon D800 to the Leica M9 so perhaps it was time to give it another try.  The D800 made sense on multiple levels.  36mp high resolution images for the models and agencies to emjoy.  D800 longer battery life vs the Leica M9 for full days of shooting. D800 autofocus lens option if I want it for moving subjects and the biggest advantage, I could take one set of lenses for 2 camera bodies. After weighing my bag with various combinations the final camera bag consisted of:

Camera gear for June 2015 trip (2 cameras, 4 lenses)

  • Nikon D800 DSLR (digital camera)
  • Nikon F4 SLR (35mm film camera)
  • Nikkor 50mm f1.8 E series MF lens (pancake lens)
  • Nikkor 24mm f2.8 D AF lens (for some interior photos)(less so for models)
  • Rollei Planar 50mm f1.8 M42 MF lens (+ tiny M42 – Nikon adapter)
  • Tokina 100mm f2.8 AF Macro lens (for portraits and macros)
  • 5 in 1 reflector
  • 35mm film (Kodak T-Max 100, T-Max 400, Fuji Acros 100, Kentmere 100, Portra 400)

Nikon F4 + New Batteries :)

To recap this is what I took on my last trip to Poland (similar space and weight):

January 2015 Poland Trip camera gear (4 cameras, 4 lenses)

  • Leica M9 (digital camera)
  • Leica M3 film camera (with 50mm framelines)
  • Leica M2 film camera (with 35mm framelines)
  • Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens (for M3)
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens (for M2)
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 lens (for M9)
  • Mamiya 645 Super + Mamiya Sekor 80mm f1.9 lens (medium format film camera)

Conclusion

Was I pleased with my camera and lens choice?

I think yes.  I still find it easier to focus a rangefinder cameras vs a SLR/DSLR but after reviewing some of the resulting photos I am extremely pleased with the detailed captured in the Nikon D800 NEF RAW files.  A broad dynamic range and lots of detail / sharpness.  Perfect for fashion photography and to my eyes more similar to the smooth Leica S2 camera images than the Leica M9 photos.  The Leica M9 images to me are more like classic 35mm film grain such as Kodak Tri-X whereas the Leica S2 and Nikon D800 is more like medium format 120 Fuji Acros 100 film (slightly extreme examples but to help visualise) for example with a broad range of grey tones.  Neither style is bad and both have their uses.  In the past I loved the narrow dynamic range of the contrasty Leica M9 black and white JPEG files yet at the moment I am really enjoying the broad dynamic range of film and the Nikon D800 RAW files.

I was pleased with both the Nikon D800 and handling of the Nikon F4 (film not yet developed).  Could I take the same images with a Leica M3 vs the Nikon F4 with the same film loaded and a 50mm lens?  Yes I think so.  The Leica M3 is smaller and lighter and I can operate it in my sleep.  The Nikon F4 was good if I wanted to use the autofocus Tokina 100mm f2.8 macro lens or the wider 24mm Nikkor but for the majority of the photoshoots I could have probably got away with just a 50mm lens.  Next time I might take a Nikkor 50mm AF lens for speed or perhaps the Nikkor 60mm f2.8D Micro lens instead of the 100mm Tokina Macro.  Both lenses are very sharp.

Could I take the same images (camera operating speaking) with the Leica M9 vs the Nikon D800?  Again I think yes but just with smaller files produced from the M9 and from 0.7m-1m away for Leica-M lenses vs up much closer with with Nikon D800.

Time to Think..

During the trip I had time to think more about Leica-M lenses vs lenses for Nikon cameras and also the limited useable max ISO of the Leica M9 vs the Nikon D800 ISO.  I will put a post together when I get chance.

For now here is the first digital sample images from the trip:

Fallen Angel

Nikon D800 Fashion Photography

Fun Between Poses

Model – Weronika @ Malva Models

Nikon D800 + Tokina 100mm f2.8 AF Macro / Nikkor 50mm f1.8 E Series

Related Posts

Leica M Typ 240 Arrives!..?

Leica M Typ 240 Arrives!..?
Matthew Osborne Photography

Over the last 3-6 months I had the oppotunity to meet various fellow Leica M photographers on my London photography workshops that were using the flagship Leica M (Typ 240).  As a Leica M9 user the first thing that blows you away is the image resolution on the M’s 3 inch LCD display.  I have toyed with the idea of ‘needing’ a Leica M before and written my thoughts on these blog pages.

So if the M9 works well why am I now looking for more?

I guess the more my photography matures the more demanding I become of my equipment in the quest for ‘perfection’ in my eyes (whatever that may be!).  For Leica wedding photography the M9 is great in good light  but I try to keep the ISO low at all times.  When shooting wide open with the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 this is rarely a problem but if I want to shoot with say a f2.8 lens such as the 21mm Zeiss ZM Biogon then of course I need more light. Model photography is easy as subjects can be asked to stay static to let me using a very slow shutter speed handheld and get a crisp photo.  For available light only documentary style wedding photography such as a bride and her father walking down the aisle a shutter speed of perhaps 1/125 is required to prevent motion blur.  To do this I may then need to push up my ISO beyond ISO 800 and I am not happy to do this.

Leica M9 vs. Leica M 240 – What do I want from the M?

  • Quieter shutter release – for candid wedding photography and church ceremony photos
  • Increased image resolution – I can get more from my Leica M lenses mounted on a 24MP sensor. Especially new lenses like the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO
  • Increased dynamic range – capturing more highlight and shadow detail in my images which us useful for wedding photos when I may need to recover shadow or highlight detail in post processing
  • Higher usable ISO – perfect for available light photography in the often dull UK weather
  • Increased battery life – very useful for both wedding photography and location shoots
  • Exposure preview – I no longer need to take a photo to check my exposure,  I can just half press the shutter release
  • Ability to mount other lenses – this is a biggy even if not so much for my paid work. I can get creative with non Leica lenses such as M42 mount Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8 and others

    Leica M features that don’t really excite me
  • Leica video function – in my view this should be dropped for the M10
  • Leica colours – I have had no problem with my Leica M9 colours unlike many reports
  • Additional optional electronic viewfinder – I prefer a rangefinder focus system
  • Focus peaking – I am happy focusing the Noctilux 50mm f1 at f1 on moving subjects via the RF
  • Hype – I buy on a practical basis not to have it as a fashion accessory

    Have I changed my view since my last M 240 review?
  • Yes. I had been concerned about :

CMOS sensor will lose the filmic look seen from the CCD M9 sensor
Increased dynamic range giving flat looking files
Increased resolution giving a clinical feel to my images

  • Now I see these as :

The Leica M CMOS sensor gives images a look that sits between the M9 and a DSLR Increased dynamic range captures more detail to process in post.  It doesn’t need to look flat.
Increased sensor resolution captures more detail resulting in a larger file size. A larger file size again gives more flexibility for post processing.

The key change in my view of the Leica M is ultimately it is the lens more than the sensor that gives the final look to an image.  If I shoot with some of my older 1950s Leica M lenses such as the 50mm f1.5 Summarit or 35mm f3.5 Summaron the photos appear soft if the lenses are used wide open. A higher resolution sensor means I can pull more detail from each photo taken increasing their apparent sharpness.  If I want razor sharp images I can use some of my newer Leica lenses such as the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO.  My best portrait lenses are my Leica Summicron 90mm f2 (1973) and Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2.  Both lenses give soft glow portraits which again can benefit from the 24MP M 240 sensor.

Another benefit of a larger file size is the ability to crop an image more heavily and still have a printable file size.  I have been spoilt by the 36MP Nikon D800 DSLR sensor that lets you crop to 25% of the original image size and still gives a 9MB photo.  I find the ability to crop useful for wedding photography when perhaps composition of a candid shot could be greatly improved by some simple cropping.

Leica M 240 vs Nikon D800

Why do I ‘need’ a Leica with a higher useable ISO and increased resolution when I already have the Nikon D800 that ticks both boxes?
I mentioned in another post that during the last 12 months the way I take a photo has changed. In the past focusing through the lens with either a SLR/ DSLR or micro four thirds camera was the norm.  The rangefinder focus system was alien to me and difficult to use.  It was hard to even image using a Leica for a wedding when I first got it. Now it is the opposite.  I am struggling to nail focus on the D800 for subjects more than a few meters away by eye yet I can hit every shots with the Leica Noctilux shot wide open at f1.  I use my Leica M9 for everything so I guess practice makes perfect!  I like the clean images from the Nikon D800 but I always think i can do better with the Leica M lenses on a RF focusing camera.  This is where the Leica M 240 will hopefully tick the box for me, for when I am doing freelance wedding photography for other photographers and they want me to use a camera to give a more typical DSLR look.

Will the Leica M 240 replace my Leica M9?

No I currently use the Leica M9 as my primary wedding camera and have the Leica M8 as a backup.  In the past I used to shoot with two camera bodies a Nikon D800 and Nikon D700.  One body had a wider lens and the other a telephoto.  I like the simplicity of only using one camera body but sometimes I want both a wide shot and telephoto image and don’t have time to change lens for fear of missing something. Common examples include walking down the isle shot where what close up of the couple but then also a photo showing all the guests too, speeches for the same reason and also the first dance.  I think my plan would be keep the Leica Noctilux firmly attached to my Leica M9 shooting it wide open and keeping the ISO low and then various wider lenses on the M 240 such as the 21f2.8, 28f2 and 35f1.2.

So after much research and deliberation I decided to take the plunge and invest in my most expensive piece of camera equipment to date.  A barely used Leica M camera body on eBay for £4000.  I rang the seller and agree a transfer payment amount of £3900 so I was happy with the purchase price.  I was excited to receive it before my next run of UK Leica weddings where I knew the venues were dark inside.  Next step was to buy the various Leica M – M42 adapters and other adapters to use non-Leica M lenses on a Leica body where I will be able to focus the lens with the LCD display rather than the rangefinder focus system. I thought I better wait until the camera actually arrived before buying ‘extras’ so managed to resist pressing buy.

..that was written in July 2014. The Leica M camera never arrived and I lost my hard earnt £3900 payment. 😦

I later discovered the camera advert was a direct copy of another listed camera and didn’t even exist. I am waiting for the police investigation to conclude their inquiry but have been told not to expect any money back.  I live day to day life on a no frills budget so I can afford these expensive camera luxuries so it is tough to accept when something like this happens.

Have I learnt from the experience?

Yes.
1)  Be careful who you trust when buying online regardless of how convincing they are and try to collect in person if high value.
2) Did I need the Leica M? No. Life has continued without it and the Leica M9 is still more than capable for my wedding photography.  My focus instead shifted from new digital (Leica M) to medium format film rangefinder cameras with the arrival of first the older Fujica GS645 6 x 4.5 format folding camera and then once I was hooked in the newer Fuji GF670 6×6 / 6×7 folding rangefinder camera.

Film vs. Digital
No matter how good a photo I take with a digital camera I will always prefer it if shot on film. I like the imperfections of analogue photos over  clean looking digital images and hence am so excited to develop the pile of exposed film in my fridge shot through 2014 on various cameras.  I have just sent off 5 rolls of C41 film to the lab for developing so will start scanning that once it returns and then have 120 and 35mm black and white film to stand develop with R09 Rodinal now I have fresh stock and a new thermometer to replace my faulty one. On top of that I also have a stack of Fuji FP100C exposed Polaroid backs to bleach in the sink on my to do list if and when I get time.

Two Weddings in Two Days

Two Weddings in Two Days
Coventry Wedding Photographer

Two Weddings in Two Days

I had a busy yet very enjoyable weekend. Saturday I travelled south for Claire and Chris’s wedding at Bartholomew Barn, Sussex. The old barn is a beautiful wedding venue especially if you want a rustic look or vintage style wedding. Claire is my cousin but I was the only official photographer on the day. Sometimes family weddings can be more stressful so I had mixed emotions beforehand. I was excited and eager to get started (like every wedding!) and at the same time a little anxious at my extended family seeing me in action! For a wedding I have to act out of character to get the most from the couple and wedding guests. My natural style is unobtrusive candid documentary style wedding photography but for group photos I need to be more assertive and vocal to get the best images. The last time I had done a family wedding I was new to wedding photography so really struggled and it took a lot out of me. This time though I didn’t really notice or even remember that people were looking at me and just got on with the job as I would for any wedding. I think once you get in the zone you are so focused you forget what is around you.  As I now work with people for much of my photography I find it easy to direct poses, whether models or a bride and groom.

Sunday’s wedding was closer to home in Coventry and I was shooting as a freelance photographer for an Asian wedding photography / videography team. I was the main photographer but had the benefit of a second shooter covering different angles. I was shooting for them so shot per their directions to get the photos they wanted for their clients. I can of course still get creative and put my twist on things but it meant we always had everything covered working as a team. Sunday was a Sikh pre-Wedding ceremony yet it lasted 12 hours and followed a similar theme to the standard wedding day (on the whole) hence the blog post title. We started at the house for family photos, then onto the Sikh temple and then spent the rest of the day at the Marriott Forest of Arden Hotel and Country Club wedding venue, Coventry. There was no expense spared and it was crazy to think that the actual wedding is still to come!

Two Weddings in Two Days, Two Camera Systems and Two Photography Styles

Here is a quick summary of gear used each day

Saturday – Leica Wedding Photography
(Manual focus wedding photography)
One camera used – Leica M9
Lens usage:
Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii – 75%
Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 (1981) – 12%
Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 – 7%
Leica Summicron 90mm f2 (1973) – 5%
Zeiss Biogon 21mm f2.8 – 1%

Sunday – Nikon Wedding Photography

One camera used – Nikon D800
Lens usage:
Nikkor 35-70/f2.8D AF – 40%
Nikkor 50mmf1.4D AF – 30%
Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s – 30%

Thoughts..
Saturday was my first wedding to date where I only used one Leica camera all day. For previous Leica weddings I used the Nikon D800 either side by side the Leica or for certain purposes such as longer focal lengths or very low light. One of my best weddings was when I got split up from my camera bag so I used the Leica M9 and a 35mm lens for nearly the entire day. With that in mind I used a similar setup yet changed lenses at certain points of the day depending on need. I used the Summilux ASPH for group photos where I had space to do so, I used the 90mm for the wedding speeches, 21mm for a few wide shots including first dance photos to show the wedding guests and then the Leica Noctilux f1 when available light levels fell and also for some creative detail shots. I was happy with my setup and I will use this for future white weddings.

Here is a sample image from Saturday (Leica M9 + CV Nokton 35/1.2 ASPH ii)
Leica Wedding

Sunday. I had planned to use the Leica on the Sunday also but I woke up with a very sore hand after wielding the heavy Leica Noctilux on the M9 for almost 14hrs on Saturday. I always favour the Leica vs. Nikon but sometimes it is just easier to use DSLR for wedding photography. The high ISO capacity and autofocus lens make life so much easier in dark venues.  Also when shooting as a freelance photographer as part of a team the larger 36mp RAW files are better for editing and match closer to other DSLR images. (Leica images have that certain Leica look which people often describe as more grainy or film like). Sikh weddings often have very large numbers of guests compared to English weddings so the rooms tend to be much bigger to cater for everyone, whether at the Sikh temple or at the wedding venue. I find the 200mm f2 lens perfect for this environment where I cannot always get as close as I would like to with my subjects. The 200mm focal length is a big contrast to the 35mm lens I normally use for white weddings! Using a Leica camera for much of my photography, I sometimes forget quite how amazing the big heavy Nikkor 200mm f2 lens is. It is really easy to shoot with at f2 and gives stunningly sharp subjects yet super creamy bokeh. That said, habits die hard and once we were at the hotel I changed to a 50mm f1.4 and got closer to my subjects as I would with the Leica. When I think how expensive Leica lenses are the Nikkor 50f1.4D offers staggering beautiful images at such an affordable price. I was using it for both macro detail shots and portraits.

Conclusion..
The Leica cameras really suit my style for my own wedding clients and especially for smaller white weddings. That said, the Nikkor D800 DSLR still proved itself as a fantastic go to camera for Indian weddings and for use as a wedding freelance photographer when shooting for others. I actually really enjoyed the ease of using the D800 again, so much so that I might get another lens for it! I want a small compact Nikkor 28mm to match my 50mm prime. I have larger 24f1.4, 35f1.4G, 85f1.4D for sale if anyone want them.

MatthewOsbornePhotography – Coventry Wedding Photographer