Zenit-M a Leica alternative

It has to be said the Leica range finders are not for everyone and even if you want one you may not be able to afford one.

I have been hearing rumours about Zenit producing a range finder but did not really believe the rumours but it turns out they are true. Its been done in partnership with Leica and the camera is based on the old Leica M240, so us range finder users now have another option.

The Night Before Christmas

On the Biking Blog “Ride it like you stole it!” which is sadly no more by Dave Dragon, there was a poem “The Biker’s Night Before Christmas”.

I have posted this before but as this is my last post before Christmas I thought it was worth posting again.

“Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the pad,

There was nada happenin’, now that’s pretty bad.

The woodstove was hung up in that stocking routine,

In hopes that the Fat Boy would soon make the scene.

With our stomachs packed with tacos and beer,

My girl and I crashed on the couch for some cheer.

When out in the yard there arose such a racket,

I ran for the door and pulled on my jacket.

I saw a large bro’ on a ’56 Pan

Wearin’ black leathers, a cap, and boots (cool biker, man).

He hauled up the bars on that bikeful of sacks,

And that Pan hit the roof like it was running on tracks.

I couldn’t help gawking, the old guy had class.

But I had to go in — I was freezing my ass.

Down through the stovepipe he fell with a crash,

And out of the stove he came dragging his stash.

With a smile and some glee he passed out the loot,

A new jacket for her and some parts for my scoot.

He patted her fanny and shook my right hand,

Spun on his heel and up the stovepipe he ran.

From up on the roof came a great deal of thunder,

As that massive V-twin ripped the silence asunder.

With beard in the wind, he roared off in the night,

Shouting, “Have a cool Yule, and to all a good ride!”

What’s a Portrait Lens – Part 2: The new Leica Summilux-M 90 f/1.5 ASPH

As I mentioned in the previous post; if your shooting full frame 35mm then lens around 85mm are the traditional focal length for portraits, but one can go longer or wider.

For myself in general when in the studio if shooting 35mm full Frame it tends for me to be a 105mm portrait lens or a telephoto zoom, depending on how I am working that day. As I mentioned I do not currently a traditional portrait lens.

For my environmental portraits I often go wide, usually a 35mm lens but occasionally 24mm or 50mm.

Leica M8

Getting a more traditional focal length for my Leica has been on my purchase list for a few years now.

Leica M10, My Favourite coffee shop – Coffee Aroma, LINCOLN

Its not been high on my list as a) Leica glass is expensive and b) for more traditional portrait focal lengths I am generally shooting with an SLR.

This month Leica have released a new 90mm portrait lens, the Leica Summilux-M 90 f/1.5 ASPH. As you can see, at 90mm and f/1.5 giving it an object lens of 60mm diameter as well as it having an aspherical lens element means that it will be good (well amazing) and also with this amount of technology its going to be expensive.

I have to admit that I even I was a little shocked at the price so I’ll be going back to look at second hand 75mm and 90mm Leica portrait lens but its good to see Leica pushing the envelope in what is possible in lens design.

What’s a Portrait Lens – Part 1

Nikon D800, Nikkor 105mm

When one thinks about a portrait lens you tend to think of a fast sharp 85mm f/1.4. Its certainly one focal length that many manufactures have a good version off.

Its a focal length that I have been considering purchasing for sometime but as I own a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom and a 105mm I have been managing quite happily.

Leica 50mm Summilux

For fun and personal work I often shoot portraits with my little Leica M. I find the Leica fun to use and is useful when working with less professional models as the camera is less intimidating.

Corset with a 35mm

For full length portraits a 50mm works well, but going wider you run a risk of distorting the figure and care is needed.

Figure in red – 24mm

In my work when the working conditions are tight I have gone as wide as 24mm. With wider lens you can use to with care to make the legs look longer, shooting from a low angle.

If you have a search on the web for well know photographers you can see some portrait photographers have produced some amazing images with lens as wide as 21mm.

So is any lens a portrait lens?

In the past many portrait lens were designed for low contrast and certainly less sharp then modern lens, a more forgiving lens for the human face.

Its posible now to buy lens that wide open are soft and dreaming but then stopped down a couple of stops are as sharp as any top lens.

Now the look of a lens is often forgotten as Photoshop is used to give the effect one wants, but its nice to get as much done in camera and just leave some basic editing for post production.

But in answer to the question, yes any lens is a portrait lens, generally 55mm to 135mm traditionally but I have seen great portraits from 21mm lens to 300mm and even the 500mm mirror lens.

Lightroom Classic V9

With the recent Apple OS updates and Adobe releasing new version of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom, I was left with only one machine my MacPro desktop that could use the new programs.

With the release of the new Apple 16 inch MacBook Pro I had to indulge.

There are a lot of new features to learn in the new Photoshop and Lightroom and having a new laptop means I can play and not be too antisocial by locking myself away in my office using my MacPro.

Tonight I have been playing with the new Texture tool. Its a bit like clarity in the way it deals with high frequency contrast areas but is a bit more delicate.

It makes a great way to soften skin without loosing too much texture in the image.

Applying some negative texture to the skin and a little positive clarity and texture to the hair, eyes, lips and clothes you very quickly get a pleasing image.

My normal route for soft skin is a round trip to Photoshop but this may be quicker and easier and give just as good results.

Leica P Release

When Leica release a new M a couple of years later they release the P version. In general its the same camera with stronger rear glass screen, no red dot and occasionally a bigger buffer.

Back when the original M8; the first digital M was released they released the M8.2 to address its short comings. Since the M9 the P has not needed to address any short comings just bring a few enhancements.

Leica M8 with 8.2 upgrades

This year we see the release of the M10P and this time Leica have made some real improvements, a new shutter and now with a touch screen. Yes you heard right, a Leica M with a touch screen.

There are also some rumours of a new Leica M mount camera that will have a EVF. Many have asked Leica for EVF; it would not be an M but would be a useful addition to the family.

Leica M10, Window Shopping

New laptop – Apple MacBook Pro 16 inch

Well I finally pulled the trigger on a new Laptop. Adobe’s latest upgrades basically meant I could no longer use Lightroom or Photoshop.

The intention was to buy a cheap low end machine but with 16 Gb of ram but then Apple announced the new 16 inch. So yes, I am currently typing this on the new Apple MacBook Pro 16 inch model. I went with 1 Tb of SSD and 32 Gb of ram which should make it a good photography laptop.