Southwold Pier

Southwold Pier with Caroline & Timmy

So here we are having fun on the end of Southwold Pier.  In the end I packed very light.  Two Leica bodies, an M4 and a M8, and two lens, an Elmar 24mm and a Summilux 50mm together with spare memory cards, two spare rolls of Kodak Tri-X and the iPad.

The above shot was taken with the M8 and the 24mm.  All processed in Lightroom Mobile on the iPad.  The colour looks a little odd as I used different contrast curves for the red and blue channel plus a little desaturation.  An interesting look I hope you agree.

So far most of my photography today has been with the M4, the light was overcast and constant which made using an old camera without a built in meter very easy.


Sad Day as Luminous Landscape Founder Dies

The Founder of LuminousLandscape, Michael Reichmann passed away on May 18th at age 71.

The website is a great resource for photographs and I have bought a number of their videos on Lightroom and Camera to Screen to Print.  Michael was a great photographer but also a great educator and will be missed.


Camera Start Up Times

D800 Tests Birds on the ArchGrab any digital SLR, power it on and your instantly ready to shoot.

With mirrorless that is not always the case.  Recently I saw an interesting video on Youtube looking at startup times for the Leica M 240 series.

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 19.02.49Its often said format in camera, and the video demonstrated that a card formatted in camera compared to a memory card formatted on a computer made quite a difference to start up time.  So first rule format in camera.  If you have to format on the computer, download SD Formatter which will do it correctly.

A Country Walk

Leica M8 24 mm Elmar
Leica M8 24 mm Elmar

Often when I go for a walk, the only camera I have is my iPhone, unless I am after shooting something in particular.  This last weekend I took Timmy the Greyhound for a country walk and took the Leica M8 with a slow 24mm lens, a wrist strap and shot in manual the whole time.

There has been a lot of debate on Leica Forum’s about the growing weight of Leica M cameras and that they are no-longer, a camera to hold in your hand for a whole day.

Modern cameras with sensors, and rear LCD screens have to be heavier, larger and thicker then old film cameras.  This is one reason why the two latest rangefinders released by Leica have provoked so much interest.  The M262 is a cut down version of the latest M.  With a aluminium top and bottom and styling closer the the old M9 is a welcome lighter M.  The new Leica M-D with its lack of rear LCD, while no lighter or slimmer is also easier to handle due to the leather rear covering.

So with these thoughts in mind I took my M8 out for a long walk with just a wrist strap.  This would force me to carry it in hand and I also made myself shoot only in full manual with manual ISO.

I got one to two nice shots and shooting in manual was not too much of an issue as long as I metered occasionally when the light changed so that I would always be ready for a potential shot.

Having to hold the camera for a number of hours was a different matter and after the walk I was glad to be able to put it down.  It was less the weight and more the sharp angles on the top plate.  Possibly with a thumbs up grip it would be better.  Certainly with the latest M-P being 680 grams and my M8 only being 591 grams its something to consider.  The new cut down M 240, the M 262 is possibly the best of both worlds.  The latest M sensor and the slightly more hand fitting body but weighing only 600 grams.

LEICA M (Typ 240)
LEICA M (Typ 240)

Certainly at the moment if your looking at buying a rangefinder the M262 is the one to get.  I am really looking forward to Septembers Photokina.  If the new M is any heavy or large then the current M-P i’ll be ordering a M262 and a Thumbs Up grip.

Auto ISO and Manual

Leica M8 24 mm Elmar
Leica M8 24 mm Elmar 

Last week I managed to get into old Lincoln city twice at lunch time to do a little street photography.  The first day Monday was a very bright day with high contrast.  As usual I shot in aperture priority and zone focused using f/5.6 or f/8 depending on the situation.  All were with manual ISO.

Leica M8 24 mm Elmar
Leica M8 24 mm Elmar

On the Friday I managed to get into town again.  This was far duller day, much colder with a cold wind and the bright sunshine hiding from us.

I deliberately chose a shooting style I had not tried before using the Leica. Manual mode with Auto ISO.  I defined the minimum shutter speed and the maximum ISO in the settings and then went out to shoot.

Usually Auto ISO is something I use when shooting wildlife to guarantee sharp shots with my Nikons.  On my old Leica M8 it was a little tricky, the problem is that the Leica has very limited viewfinder information so I was never quite sure what was happening.

Still I managed to get a few nice shots from the lunchtime walkabout.

Post Production – Software Lens Correction and Noise Results

Lincoln Cathedral - Leica M8, 24mm Elmar-M f/3.8
Lincoln Cathedral – Leica M8, 24mm Elmar-M f/3.8

So above is the original image which I produced the two prints from.

.Lightroom processing for print-2

Its virtually impossible to see the differences of software correction at this size and even on the two prints it was hard to spot.  The only difference immediately obvious is a slight composition change caused by the corrected verticals. 

Compare - software correction

 It’s in the corners that you can see the most difference. The noise and software correction has lowered the resolution making them look a touch softer. 

I made two A4 prints and I invited a few people to choose which they preferred. 

The score was four to one with one undecided.  The majority all preferred the uncorrected print. For myself I also preferred the uncorrected print. This test is a little unfair as in reality I would usually post process an image in between these two extremes but it has given me much to think about. 

I also recommend that you occasionally print some of your work. We get too fixated on our images on the screen, wanting noise free perfection and viewing the images at 100%, 200% or even 400%.

It’s often only when you get a print in your hand you realize how good your photograph really is. 

Post Processing for Print

Lightroom processing for print

With all the adjustments available to us in modern software I decided to do an experiment with the above photo.

First I did a very minimal development.  No lens correction, no noise correction, some sharpening and a slight adjustment for blown highlights and deep shadow, hardly surprising with the high contrast subject matter.

Then a tweak of extra clarity (+15 from what ever I set for the screen), then off to soft proof and print.

Lightroom processing for print-2

The second version was much more aggressive, full lens and perspective correction, heavy noise reduction and then a little slight grain added to make the noise reduction look more natural.  A touch more sharpening then off to soft proof, again extra clarity for the print.

I now had two prints but which was best.  Well time to ask a few people what they thought.

I’ll let you know the results tomorrow.

Post Production – Image adjustment, Lens adjustment and Noise reduction

Lincoln Cathedral - Leica M8, 24mm Elmar-M f/3.8
Lincoln Cathedral – Leica M8, 24mm Elmar-M f/3.8

I like cameras that produce real RAW files, just the data please – thats what I want from my camera.  Admittedly its getting harder as more and more companies include adjustments into their RAW files.

My Leica M8 and the latest Leica M (Type 240) allow adjustments but when you import the images into a product like Adobe Lightroom all these types of adjustment like lens adjustment, noise adjustment etc are all optional and are off by default.  This means you can customise as you want.

You may question why you may not want these adjustments, well any of these adjustments will reduce resolution and can cause smearing, especially at the edges.

With Leica M glass, you can get issues with the edges, these old designs work well with film but digital likes the light-rays appears perpendicular to the sensor.  A little adjustment is sometimes necessary but its nice with the Leica M cameras to have the choice.

Interestingly testing has shown that the Leica SL does apply a little correction to M glass that cannot be turned off.  This is a same as the design team for the Leica M have really shown how it should be done.

In case your interested the above image has all adjustments including noise switched off.  It was taken with an old CCD Leica M8 at 640 ISO and a slow lens set to f/5.6 to give a bit of depth of field.  This has resulted in a noisy image and one which resulted in a shutter speed of only 1/8 second.

Once of the joys of small mirrorless cameras is that with no large flapping mirrors you can shoot with quite slow shutter speeds, though 1/8 of a second and no image stabilisation is pushing it.

Lunchtime Photowalk

Leica M8
Leica M8

Monday was brilliant sunshine, a continuation of a beautiful weekend.

Midday and high contrast is about the worst time to take photographs.  With the bright light allowing low ISO and decent shutter speeds with an aperture of f/8 and zone focusing it was worthwhile trying to get a shot or two.

Old Barn Door

Shooting with a Leica and fast Leica glass there is quite a fashion for shooting wide open and little death of field like the shot above.  Its something I indulge in a lot in a studio setting where you can take care and retake the shot if necessary.

On the street, f/5.6 or f/8 rules to ensure you get a shot in focus.