Archive for Leica SL

Preliminary Thoughts On The Leica 75mm Noctilux Used With The Leica SL

Posted in Leica Images, photography with tags , , , on March 18, 2018 by johnbuckley100

Nocti 75-16All images Leica Noctilux-M 75mm f/1.25 and Leica SL

In 2012, when Leica released the M9 Monochrom and the 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph, the pairing of camera and lens was considered by many, including me, to be a marriage made in Heaven.  The combination of the digital CCD sensor and extreme resolving power of that modern lens produced pictures that were unequaled until, in May of 2015, Leica upgraded the Monochrom with a CMOS sensor.  Purists complained about the switch from the poetic CCD to the more utilitarian CMOS sensor format, but the big improvement lay in the fact that with CMOS, live-view technology enabled the photographer to use an Electronic Viewfinder, which crude as that first-generation EVF was, enabled images to be captured with a focus precision worthy of the lens.

We also loved using our 50mm Noctilux f/0.95, Leica’s legendary thin focal plane low-light marvel, with the Monochrom.  But in 2015, when Leica released the SL, a mirrorless professional camera with an EVF that many believe to be the finest in use with the 35mm format, new possibilities were opened.  The SL’s EVF made both the 50mm APO and the 50mm Noctilux incredibly easy to get exactly that shot wide open you’d always dreamed of.  We couldn’t imagine a better combination of lens and camera until Leica went and spoiled everything by releasing the 50mm Summilux-SL 50, another low-light marvel that, dammit, made use of the SL’s autofocus.  Suddenly, it became the go-to lens for certain images, because the bokeh was really pleasing, the color rendition was marvelous, and the thin focal plane was completely usable with an autofocus that, while initially slow, was incredibly accurate.  We thought then, that’s it: there couldn’t be a better combination of camera and lens for stationary images.  And then yesterday, my 75 MM Noctilux-M arrived.

Nocti 75

Yes, when word that Leica was releasing a lens that had a shorter minimum focal distance than the 50mm Noctilux and, nine years after that version of the Noctilux was released, it also claimed to have a variety of other improvements, we were intrigued but not sold.  And then we thought it through.  We are fortunate to have both the 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph, that manual focus gem mentioned in the first paragraph, and the SL-50mm Summilux.  Why did we actually still need the *50mm* Noctilux?  Moreover, if we traded that Nocti in, as well as our 75mm APO-Summicron — a lens we loved but seldom used — we could get within striking distance of the very expensive 75mm Noctilux.  And so we traded in our 50mm Noctilux and 75mm APO-Summicron and waited, somewhat impatiently, for the new 75mm Noctilux to arrive.

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First impressions of this lens, when used with with the Leica SL, are that it is every bit the match of that 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph and Monochrom combination.  And, it makes for the ultimate Noctilux experience because it actualizes the Nocti into what it is supposed to be: the paradigm of selective focus, achievable through actually being able to focus on what you have in mind.

Yes, this is a specialty lens.  You won’t use it every day.  It is pretty much a one-trick pony. It may not be ideal — given its size and weight — with the M10.  But it feels perfectly balanced and not too heavy with the Leica SL.  And given that camera’s gorgeous EVF and precision focusing using the magnification button, you can get shots previously only dreamed about with a Noctilux.  For example, in the picture below I was focusing on the bird’s eye.  You may not be able to see it here, but honest, the bird’s eye is, on my computer screen, captured in pinpoint focus.

Nocti 75-8

Yesterday, I had time only to take the lens out on some errands but it immediately impressed me, in combination with the SL, for how easy it was to get the focus I wanted, as well as for the incredibly gorgeous drop off between the in-focus plane and the out-of-focus area.  Below, I focused on the technician’s eyelashes.

Nocti 75-5

I was pleasantly surprised by how little color fringing there was, especially compared to the 50mm Noctilux.  Today, when I took it to the National Cathedral, it was a joy to use in bright sunshine, taking advantage of the SL’s electronic shutter.  (We can’t wait to get an ND filter to use with this.)

Nocti 75-10

Over emphasis on bokeh is an adolescent vice.  You use the Noctilux for special effects.  One of the things that makes it so seductive, though, is the way it can be used to to create relatively abstract images in certain situations.

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The lens performs as if it had an Apochromatic blending of red, green, and blue colors.  But it also seems like it is going to be a very special lens for black and white photos.

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We will have to get accustomed to the 75mm focal length, as 50mm or 35mm are our standard.  But once we’ve gotten the hang of it, we can see many uses for this special lens.

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For Leica users, and especially those who have struggled over the years with getting the image they wanted from their Noctilux in use with digital Ms, trust us when we say that our ratio of images taken where the focus was spot on was like no previous experience we’ve had.  The SL EVF, the magnification tool, and the 75 Noctilux work perfectly in combination, even when taking into account the significantly smaller focal plane of the 75 when compared to the 50.  (We have read that the focal plane at minimum focal distance is 8cm, compared to the 50’s 20cm.  That’s a big difference!)

Nocti 75-11

Nearly six years ago, we thought that Leica had produced the greatest combination of camera and lens, the Platonic ideal.  With the Leica SL and the new 75mm Noctilux, we think they have surpassed their prior performance.

The Found Abstract Art Of Yellowstone

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 28, 2017 by johnbuckley100

Yellowstone Abstract-3

All images Leica SL and Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90 ASPH

If you visit Yellowstone National Park and drive up the eastern side of its crazy-eight loop, the world is precise, rectilinear, even as it is, of course, wildly gorgeous and gorgeously wild.  A gorge in fact, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, shows how the park got its name, and if you are a photographer, you are drawn to take certain pictures, year after year, each time reveling in the precision and sharpness of your lens capturing every facet of the rock faces in the plummet to the water.

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Ah, but after you’ve spent time crossing Dunraven Pass and seeing the movement of the animals in the Lamar Valley, when after a day or so it is time to head back down the west side of the park, things get weirder.  This is the land of the fumarole, of the geyser, a steaming, smoking remnant of the volcano underneath your feet. You leave the world where the sharpness of your lens is what matters and enter a place where the art that’s thrust before you everywhere you turn has become unmoored from familiar geometry.

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Once you’re in the Norris Geyser Basin, you are in a completely unfamiliar place, mystical in many ways.  And before you know it, you’re surrounded by pure abstraction and found art.

Yellowstone AbstractYellowstone is sublime, an environment worthy of Rilke.  As you work your way further down its western road, it becomes nothing short of magical.  The herds of bison you’ve seen earlier in the day seem as far away as the grid pattern of Manhattan. Things get very strange.  And found art, nature’s Jackson Pollacks, is everywhere you look.

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Fountain Paint Pot, a perennial stop on our visits there, is different every time, the bacteria pools a completely different color then when last you were there.  Which makes sense, since they’re piping hot and exist in a fierce environment.

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Yellowstone Abstract-6Yellowstone Abstract-5

You begin to wonder how the surface of the Earth would look as a giant photograph hung on a large living room wall.

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By the time you get to Grand Prismatic Spring, you know that no human could possibly compete with the caldera of Yellowstone in creating non-representational beauty.

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The Earth is a beautiful place, but the Lower Geyser Basin is more than simply beautiful.  It is, in its own way, terrifying, even as you marvel at it, jaw agape.

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Lurking behind the question of how nature determined its design is, of course, the world’s greatest mystery.  Where did this come from? How did it happen to be here?  Answer that and millions will follow your words down the centuries.

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And when you leave, and head back to your safe existence, you do so determined to come back to this repository of glorious natural art.  And you do so, year after year, like visiting the Louvre, or in this case, Nature’s MOMA.

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For more images of Greater Yellowstone in color, go here.  And if you’d prefer black and white, go here.

At Washington’s #MarchForScience, The Consensus Was Trump And The GOP Endanger Our Future

Posted in Trump Protests with tags , , , , , on April 22, 2017 by johnbuckley100

March For Science-4

All pictures Leica SL with 24-90 Vario-Elmarit SL

The chants were lame, the spirits high. The crowd was large and festive in the rain, the by now customary mingling of the generations out to protest Trump.  Our peer-reviewed count was 200,000 plus (we asked one of our peers, and he agreed.)  We are increasingly grateful to Trump for organizing our social activities, as it was so easy to pull together a crowd of friends to venture out in the pouring rain, just for the chance to protest his policies.  The energy of these marches is not dissipating, and each week that goes by brings us — yes, several new outrages from the Administration — but also that much closer to the 2018 elections.  The scientists did a good job of organizing their March for Science.  Here are some pictures to once again document protests in the age of Trump.

March For Science-6March For Science-5March For Science-2March For Science-7March For Science-8March For Science-9March For Science-10March For Science-11March For Science-13March For Science-14March For Science-15March For Science-17March For Science-19March For Science-20March For Science-21March For Science-22March For Science-24March For ScienceMarch For Science-25March For Science-26March For Science-27March For Science-28March For Science-29March For Science-30March For Science-31

The Tulip Frenzy, 2017 Edition

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 11, 2017 by johnbuckley100

Washington had an unfortunate month of March, and we’re not just talking about the Trump Administration.  First it was warm, and then it was cold.  By April it was warm again, but the damage was done, first to the cherry blossoms, then to the tulips.  We didn’t take pictures of tulips the week of March 31 because they weren’t ready, and by the 7th, they were overripe.  But in a secret spot where our beloved tulips congregate, Tulip Frenzy found these.  All images taken with a Leica SL and the 50mm Summilux SL, with an ND filter.

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What His Administration Must Look Like To “The Closer”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 26, 2017 by johnbuckley100

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Leica SL, Vario-Elmarit SL 24-90, Kamokuna Lava Flow, Big Island

The New Years Day Snowstorm (See Full Gallery Of Images)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 1, 2017 by johnbuckley100


It was about three degrees in the valley when we went for a New Years Day walk.  Jackson Hole is in a snow cycle and while only a few inches had fallen, in the cold air the light was glorious.  Herewith a gallery of images of what we saw this morning, in the order we saw it.  In most cases we have converted the images to black and white; in some cases we didn’t need to convert anything because it already was monochrome.  And in some cases we have left the color in, thinking it looked best that way. Happy New Year — and so happy that already in this new year, we have taken some photographs we like.











Tulip Frenzy’s Top 10 List Of Black and White Photographs We Took In 2016

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2016 by johnbuckley100

Funk Parade 2016Leica Monochrom-246, 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph

Last week, we published our personal faves among the various color photographs we took and published in 2016.  We understand that photographers tend to be known by a particular “look” and sensibility, that many feel the need to commit to either black and white or color.  We couldn’t if we tried.

We look deeply saturated colors — and the purity of monochrome.  We love going out some days with our Leica Monochrom in hand, viewing the world in black and white just as if we had a camera loaded with Tri-X Pan.  On those days when we are either deliberately shooting monochrome, or in the end, that’s the way we process them, we are just as happy, and in some ways even more so than when we shoot color.  We love grey scale, tonalities, the otherness and permanence of an image in black and white.

The one above is our favorite for the year.  Below, in no order, are our nine others.  And for those who like black and white photography, we think you’ll like the galleries on our sister site, Tulip Frenzy Photography.

Floating On Bubbles 3

Leica MP-240, 35mm Summilux


Pedestrian At Best

Leica Monochrom, 50mm Noctilux

Funk Parade 2016-5

Leica Monochrom, 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph

high-heel-race-2016Leica Monochrom, 50mm Noctilux

Funk Parade 2016-4Leica Monochrom, 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph

SL Example-2Leica SL, 50mm Noctilux


Leica Monochrom, 50mm Noctilux

SL Review-5Leica SL, Vario-Elmarit SL 24-90mm

Funk Parade 2016 Supplement-4

Leica Monochrom, 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph

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