What Portrait Lens for the Leica M

Window Light, Leica M8, Summicron 35mm

Over the last couple of years I have been considering a portrait lens for my Leica.

The top shot was a 35mm lens on a 1.3x crop Leica M8 so really close to 50mm.  For full length or cropped above the knee; 50mm is a good choice.  Below is a shot of Bonnie with my M10 and a 50mm Summilux, if you compare it with the top shot you can see its very similar and gives a pleasing perspective.

For head shots and close face crops, a 50mm distorts the face a little so a longer length is preferred.

I have portrait lens for my SLR and medium format gear but not for my Leica.  Leica currently make two lens you would consider portrait lens.  A 75mm and a 90mm.

I am torn between wanting the longer length of the 90mm and wanting the speed and easy of focus of the 75mm.

I’ll have do some testing with my SLR and zoom to get a feel of the two lengths and see what I prefer.


High ISO Leica M10 – ISO 10,000 after dusk

Shooting at high ISO is something we now expect from modern cameras.

Last night I decided to test the Leica at ISO 10,000.  This is ridiculously high but was a fun test.  So after the sun was set I headed out and walked around the local village to grab a few test shots.

These were all shot at f/1.4 or f/2 and at 1/25 second for the top shot and 1/125 of a second for the church shot.

There was colour noise and grain, which I enhanced slightly by adding artificial grain, but the colour noise was easily dealt in Adobe Lightroom.

Considering this is ISO 10,000 its way better then ISO 640 on my Leica M8.

The shot below was the M8 at ISO 640 at 1/30 second. Its good but not in the same class as the M10.


Studio Test of the new M10 & a Lunch Time Walk

On Saturday I popped to the studio to give the Leica M10 a test.  Studio photography with a rangefinder is certainly not its strength, but with care its certainly an option.

This is a simple image taken on a plain white background, a main light and fill, plus a hair light and lights for the white background.

Now this background is not white because I coloured it in photoshop and gave it a slight radial gradient.  I’ll post a quick note on how to do this at a later date.

Where the Leica excels is in street photography.  So this lunchtime I took it out for the first time to the streets of Lincoln and the local coffee shops to take a few snapshots.

My old Leica M8 has a 1.3 crop factor while the M10 is 35mm full frame so it will take a while for me to get my eye in but I hope to get in plenty of practice over the next few weeks.

Heading out I took my first couple of shots of people wandering the streets, I was zone focused and had the ISO set to Auto at 1/f for shutter speed and the aperture at f/8.  With my M8 I would usually have the ISO set at 640 and hope to get a high enough shutter speed.  After chimping at the viewfinder after those first couple of shots I was disappointed to find them blurred, with a 50mm Summicron lens I was getting a shutter speed of 1/50 with the ISO being set by the camera at 100.  I quickly dived into the settings and set the auto iso to 1/2f, that should give me 1/100 as a minimum speed, but I may manually set it to 1/250 depending on how the next couple of days go.

The shots on the streets of Lincoln were decidedly average and not worth putting up here, so next I hit the coffee shop.  This was more challenging as I was shooting at around f/2 so had minimal depth of field.  I cheated by setting the focus using live view and focus peeking, this is the first camera I have had, that features this, but it is functionality that Sony and Fuji’s have had for sometime.

As you can see its fairly sharp.  The auto iso was capped at 1600 and this is what the camera set with a shutter speed of 1/90.  For ISO 1600 is quite clean; there is a touch of colour noise but nothing more then any other current camera, and a touch of noise reduction and grain has cleaned it up nicely without losing too much detail.

So far I am pleased with the results and look forward to testing out and really getting the hang of it over the coming weeks.

Village Events – The 2017 Duck Race

Saturday was the annual village duck race to raise money for the local primary school.

I was busy in the studio testing out my Leica M10, so Caroline and Timmy the Greyhound went.   Caroline took her Nikon D200 and a wide angle zoom to take a few shots of the event.

The village has quite a good community atmosphere and does well in coming together for events like this.