Archive for Leica M (typ.240)

The View From Berkeley

Posted in 50mm Apo Summicron Asph, Leica M with tags , on March 23, 2015 by johnbuckley100

So there was schmutz on the window of the hotel room.  But the 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph can still capture detail, no?  This one is really worth clicking on.  Berkeley, CA, Saturday, March 21.

From Berkeley 1

Thoughts On The Leica M After One Year’s Use

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 28, 2014 by johnbuckley100

240Writeup

One year ago this weekend, I was lucky enough to receive a Leica M (typ-240).  As a photographer who had rediscovered his love of the craft by using a Leica M7 (2002), and then happily taking the leap to digital with an M8 (2006) and an M9 (2009), it was immediately clear that with the M, Leica had come as close to perfecting the digital rangefinder experience as seems possible.  The Leica M has a 24 megapixel CMOS sensor, and from the first day, I found the image quality to be as good as the legendary M9’s, so long as one adjusted his post-processing technique to be careful not to oversaturate the colors.

There were immediate advantages in using the M over the M9, and especially the M8: its high ISO performance enabled one to shoot with much greater latitude at night, as as I noted after using it for a month.

MeridaNight

 

One still had all of the advantages of using a rangefinder — speed of manual focusing, more intuitive, user-controlled operation, and of course, the Leica’s small size, but now, for the first time, you also had an option to set up the M as, in essence, a DSLR, and thus use long lenses. For the M offers Live View and with an adaptor — Leica’s own R-to-M lens adaptor was made available only last month, 10 months after the camera arrived, but we purchased a decent stand-in early — one could shoot Leica’s great R-mount telephoto lenses.  As I noted in August, after spending a considerable amount of time with the M out West — and thus for the first time, able to shoot telephoto lenses on a rangefinder — it made me think of the M as a truly multipurpose tool.

Oxbowcloud1 (1 of 1)

 

I could now incorporate it better into landscape photography, which we welcomed.  The versatility available to the user — being able to shoot at night…

Last Fair Shot (1 of 1)

 

while retaining the rangefinder’s advantage in being able to take intimate, spontaneous street photos without freaking out the subject…

Day two Teton Fair 10 (1 of 1)

 

made using the camera a complete joy.

I can’t say that using mine has been trouble free.  Mine has a persistent annoying flaw where, after taking a number of shots in succession, the LCD reveals the images whirling past like they’re on a carousel.  It’s really odd.  It takes a minute or so to calm down and have me be able to look at the last image I shot.  Yes, I could send this to Leica NJ or to the hospital in Solms, but it’s an annoyance, not a deal breaker.  Should a camera this expensive have any flaws? No.  But we live with it.

The new brightly lit frame lines in the viewfinder make the M’s intuitive focusing even better than the M9.  Some pictures, such as the one below of the mother with her children skating, can be captured only via luck, or the practice that comes with having used a Leica for a decade or more.  It’s my belief, however, that the rangefinder in the M is a better calibrated instrument than any previous Leica, because more pictures seem to catch exactly what I was hoping for.

Unbearable Lightness Of Parenting

 

 

 

 

When the Monochrom came out in 2012, many of us noted that the files it produced were more malleable than previous files we’d worked with, meaning that you could, in post-production, get effects and looks beyond what we’d been able to achieve previously.  I found the same thing to be true with the M.  I happen to like deeply saturated colors, and when I shot film, I often used Fuji Velvia.  Some found the look of the M’s files to be too vivid; I found that, whether it was in Lightroom or using Nik’s Color Efex Pro4, I could get the look, and feel, I was after.

240Writeup-4

 

The camera seemed to be able to take maximum advantage of Leica’s lenses.

untitled (1 of 1)-7

 

And it was especially clear that the combination of the M with the Noctilux was as special as the Noctilux’s marriage to the Monochrom.

By Any Other Name

 

Over the course of a single year, the camera has provided me with an inspiring opportunity to experiment with how I see the world — which is really all you want from a camera.  Right?  A tool that inspires you to try new things is a tool you can really learn to love.

Paper Fans

 

All I know is that after a single year of using the M, I believe my photography is getting better, that the tool I am using enables me to have my camera be, as Cartier-Bresson said his M was, an extension of my eye.  It is possible there are better cameras out there, and Leica may even be able to improve upon the M.  But after one year using it, I am still somewhat stunned at how much it enables me to fulfill ambitions I did not even know I had.

The Kiss

 

Dog Day Afternoon

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 22, 2014 by johnbuckley100

At last some nice weather.  Leica M-240, 50mm Summilux Asph, ND filter.

Dog Day Afternoon

This Russian Is Not Pleased A Long Weekend’s Coming

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 26, 2013 by johnbuckley100

What happened to the Americanski work ethic.  Ah, Thanksgiving.  Leica M, 35mm Summilux Asph FLE.

Russians Are Coming 2013

Mulling His Options

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 11, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Leica M (typ 240), 35mm Summilux Asph FLE, slightly cropped.

Mulling His Options

New Images For Sale At The Stephen Bartels Gallery

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 10, 2013 by johnbuckley100

SBGNovemberJB1

Leica M (typ 240), 50mm Summilux Asph

This afternoon in London, three more of our images were posted on The Stephen Bartels Gallery website.

We now have nine images at the gallery, which are for sale for a truly reasonable price.  Get your loved ones the gift of fine photography for the upcoming holidays!  Images can be purchased online, for as little as $48.00 for a 10″ X 8″.

There now are 51 exceptional photographers represented by the gallery, all highly individual in their styles, but connected by one common element: each of us use Leica cameras and lenses.  Whether you are in the market to buy photographs or not, check out the terrific range of photographers, and some really inspirational work.

A Different Kind of American Gothic

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 24, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Halloween is a very important holiday, for some folks.  Leica M, 35mm Summilux Asph FLE.

Seriously Halloween

Getting Ready For Halloween

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 19, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Yesterday, as the National Zoo came back to life, there were signs everywhere of workers — the “non-essential” kind who hadn’t been on skeleton duty, taking care of animals — scrambling to get ready for the zoo’s big Halloween activities.

Late For Halloween2

 

There were men hanging dragons in trees.

Hanging Dragon

 

Too bad it wasn’t the Tea Party Congresscreatures who’d kept them from work.  And prevented little girls from visiting the zoo.

Zoo Delight

Thoughts On The Leica M (Typ-240) As A Multipurpose Tool

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on August 4, 2013 by johnbuckley100

240Writeup

Leica M, 50mm Noctilux, ND Filter

When the Leica M arrived at the beginning of March, we used it exclusively in its classic rangefinder mode, and immediately found it to be a step up from the Leica M9 we had used, and loved, since September 2009.  With 24 megapixels, not the M9’s 18, it had larger files to work with, and with a CMOS sensor, not the M9’s CCD, it had greater high ISO performance.  Almost immediately after posting some initial images, several commentators expressed confirmation of their worst fears about the color rendering of the new sensor, but we found those fears overblown, for two reasons.  First, because as the critique of some images, mistakenly posted by Leica as coming from the new M but actually from the M9, set off caterwauling from M9 aficionados, it was apparent that Leica loyalists were projecting their fears about color performance onto the images they saw.  Second, because in my own case, I like color-saturated images, and I knew that aspects of the color performance of an image such as the one above came from my having chosen to process the picture not simply in Lightroom, but also in various of the Nik Software products, such as Color Efex Pro, where I could choose a look to my preference.

240Writeup-5

Leica M, 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph

We quickly found that when used as a rangefinder, the focusing performance, speed, and reliability made the Leica M something of a dream come true.  Over the past five months there have, in fact, been some glitches in using it, and yes, it did get recalled to Germany, which door-to-door-to-door meant it was out of our hands for about a month, but all in this M seems closer in its steadfast reliability to our old Leica M film cameras than to the Italian-sportscar finickyness of the previous digital rangefinders, 2006’s M8 and 2009’s M9.  The rangefinder focusing mechanism itself seems to have achieved a degree of perfection, which is a big deal if you are relegated to using, by design, manual focus, not the comforts of modern autofocus that virtually every other camera system has made available for, oh, the past 20 years.

240Writeup-6

Leica M, 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph

From the start, we found the new M to be fast, and we loved having large files to play with.  As Thorsten Overgaard has pointed out, because of the size of the files, you need to ante up for the fastest SD cards, but given how inexpensive these now have become, it’s worth it.

240Writeup-4

Leica M, 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph

The brouhaha about color resolution which erupted on the Leica User Forum and around other online watering holes seemed to us fairly ridiculous, and we began to tune out of posts with 800 responses, mostly from people who had not actually used the exceptionally hard-to-find M.  We were extremely fortunate to have gotten our hands on one early, and immediately found that latitude for post-processing tweaks enable any user to get the look he or she wants.  You can dial color up or down; it’s up to the user.  One thing seemed clear from the outset, though: just as the Leica Monochrom files seemed flat when fresh from the camera, the significant latitude that camera and the new M allowed in post-proccessing was remarkable, and in part because of the dynamic range of the M, in part because of much better high ISO performance, in part because of the size of the files, images from the M can be transformed into pretty much whatever the user wants.  If you don’t like the look, blame the photographer, not the camera.

240Writeup-2

Leica M, 50mm Summilux

It was clear that the high ISO performance of the M enabled a photographer, for the first time, to go out at night with a digital Leica without fear of noise rendering images unusable.  This is a really big deal, and instantly rendered moot so much of the criticism, from within and outside of Leica circles, of Leica’s digital rangefinders.  People use Leica cameras for a number of reasons, but basically it comes down to these: First, amazing fast lenses.  Second, the simplicity — and purity — of a classic rangefinder system.  Third, the unobtrusiveness of the camera, which renders performance as great as, in many instances, the big DSLRs that “serious photographers” lug around, much to the delight of their chiropractors.  But the M8 and M9 were clearly substandard when it came to high ISO performance, and even with fast lenses, there were limitations in what one could do at night.  No more.  The M is a fully realized camera at night.

240Writeup-10

Leica M, 35mm Summilux FLE

We’ve had commentators question whether the photo above was an HDR image.  In fact, rather than having been taken on a tripod, it was shot at ISO 640, f/4, 1/45th of a second.  In other words, in the mode of a classic Leica M.  From the time we visualized the image, raised the camera to our eye, and took the picture was, oh, two seconds. This one was processed in LR5, and is quite true to the color and light available at that moment.

240Writeup-11

Leica M, 35mm Summilux FLE

The image above was sent from LR5 over to Nik Viveza only because it gave us a greater ability to dial down the brightness of some of the direct lighting that otherwise unbalanced the image.  So to us, if one of Leica’s goals with the M was to render it as capable at night as the M9 was during the day, our belief is mission accomplished.

240Writeup-8

Leica M, Vario-Elmar-R 80-200

But there was another reason we were excited about the M when it was announced last September, and it was the prospect of using it not as a rangefinder, but as a DSLR, both with an electronic viewfinder, and with an adaptor enabling us to use telephoto lenses, including those from Leica’s discontinued R system.  Pretty early on, months before getting an M, we acquired a fairly inexpensive R lens — the Vario-Elmar-R 80-200, f/4 zoom.  Using it out West recently, we have been delighted by the possibilities now open to us.  It is quite easy to simply put the EVF on, affix the adaptor and long lens, and use it as Canon and Nikon users have for years been able to use their DSLRs.  It’s a bit of a kluge, but the performance is, to our eye, pretty great.  We are no longer second-class photographic citizens when it comes to wildlife or landscape photography where a long lens is necessary.

Postcard Tetons

Leica M, Vario-Elmar-R 80-200

In part because Leica still — five months after the release of the M — has not made available such accessories as a hand grip (which would make handling long lenses more practical) and their own R-lens adaptor, we’ve not yet plunged into the world of telephotos longer than 200mm, but we could if we wished.  Which opens up possibilities that have not been open to us since we made the switch, more than a decade ago, from Nikons to Leicas.   We made that switch because we wanted a simple, pure system based on enhancing one’s skill, not the latest available technology.  We haven’t regretted the switch we made, but there have been moments when we’ve missed what a more flexible DSLR system provides.  Now, with the M, we have a multipurpose tool that gives us pretty much everything we’ve hoped for.

240Writeup-9

Leica M, Vario-Elmar-R 80-200

Now we too can flock to the riverside to capture that moose that previously we wouldn’t have had a prayer of getting, save for as a speck on a larger image that, yes, we could seriously crop, but in the process kind of lose the plot.

It has been been five months since we first picked up a Leica M (Typ-240). The camera has critics, but it has even more people anxiously awaiting that call from their dealer telling them one has arrived with their name on it.  As a longtime (11 years) Leica user, we can state that certain quibbles notwithstanding, the Leica M is the finest camera we’ve ever had the privilege of using.  It has fulfilled our fondest hopes.  It is a fully actualized, multidimensional and multipurpose tool.  It is a winner.

You can follow Tulip Frenzy on Twitter @johnbuckley100.  Follow here.

For observations on the Leica M after a single month go here.

The Offering

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 14, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Dupont Circle.  Leica M, 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph, f/8, 1/60th, ISO 200.

The Offering

%d bloggers like this: