Skip to content
Advertisements

Posts tagged ‘equipment’

First Impression of the LEICA Q “Hemingway” (Typ 116)

IMG_2891

O and I were able to get the Leica Q (Typ 116) full frame mirrorless compact camera with a fixed 28mm Summilux f1.7 lens loaner for a week. Many thanks to Ebehard “Ebi” Kuehne (Leica District Manager) and the notorious Tibor Szilagyi (Samy’s Camera, Los Angeles).

IMG_2901

DISCLAIMER!!!: My review is only based on the images I take and how user friendly the camera is. Images are post processed with pushing or pulling on the contrast, darks, brightness, and highlights. That is about the only post work I do. And, my bias is based on if the camera helps me capture the image I envisioned. I am not knowledgeable about equipment from any technical point of view. So if any one expects to read detailed specifications or any tech reviews, there are other sites that have the expertise. You can go to L-Camera Forum here to find out a list of all the reviews of the Q. You can check out all the specifications at the Leica site here.

L1020913

ISO 400 – 1/1000 sec – f5.6

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. – George Bernard Shaw

For the past year, my love for photography and Leica suffered a huge set back due to a confluence of energy consuming family issues. I felt stuck. And this blog got stuck too. I know you all have had this experience. Whether it is something personal or professional, we all go through this phase at some point or another in our lives. I realized I needed something greater than myself to inspire me. I needed to change the status of ‘stuck’ so I can progress.

L1020964

ISO 400 – 1/800 sec – f5.6

The last time I made improvement in my photography and deepend my love for it was when the Leica M Monochrom was launched. So I’ve been looking for something similar to help reanimate my two loves again. I thought Leica’s pretty T-model would lure me back. But it was a fleeting rendezvous and like a wisp of wind, its shining beauty faded as fast as it came. So I waited for the next camera development. Before it’s announcement in July this year, Leica was secretly developing their own solo project. It was code named ‘Hemingway’, after the writer Ernest Hemingway who was bold, no nonsense and extremely efficient with his words. When I heard rumors, I knew this one would be a game changer for Leica. Come on, with Hemingway as inspiration, it had to be. And sure enough, when Leica announced the new Q model (Type 116), I got excited.

L1020952

ISO 400 – 1/1600 sec – f5.6

I couldn’t wait to make the first photos. The first time I pressed the shutter, I knew Leica finally made it. This is Leica’s own venture and not some repackaging of a Panasonic camera. They say they have ‘redefined the compact camera’ and this time, you bet Leica has. Now let’s see what they did:

The Leica Q is a not so compact 24-megapixel CMOS sensor full-frame camera with a 28mm f/1.7 Summilux fixed-lens. Video records at HD 1080/60p. It is by far the most intuitive mirrorless camera I have had in my hands. I did not have an instruction manual so I tried everything by feel. And it wasn’t hard to navigate the menus.

L1020903

ISO 400 – 1/3200 sec – f1.7

Although I had it for a week, I really used it for about 2 short days on account of my day job. But in the brief time I was more than pleased with the experience and especially my results. Now don’t expect major testing in this post. That’s for pixel peeps and I’m not one of them.

We all know that often, initial inspiration comes from having the right tools. You know- change of mindset, change of environment and ahem, and of course change of equipment. In this case the Q. But the real spark comes when you see the results of the shoot and you can say ‘Hell yeah! I took something worth looking at.” It makes you want to shoot more. We love to be rewarded for our efforts. And the ease with which you handle a camera makes it more fun. O and I both shot with aperture priority.

L1030134

ISO 400 – 1/6400 sec – f8.0

THE BASIC PHYSICAL

Let’s start with the physical characteristics: The design team at Leica headed by Peter Kruschewski and Vincent Laine did an amazing job. They distilled the essentials of a Leica camera and the result is a modern Leica aesthetic and not a kind of copy. It recalls the mastery of Dieter Rams of Braun who created classic simple designed products. And the Q rates up there.

The Magnesium body is covered with leatherette. The hatching pattern is subtle and beautiful similar to the one on the Titanium M9 which I always secretly hankered for. The top and bottom plates are anodized aluminum. The top plate is thin rather than the bulky M. And the ergonomic thumb rest indent that cuts the top plate is a beautiful design touch. It helps the grip. Although, with the heavier lens, you’ll still need a purposeful wrist strap or shoulder strap as back-up. This is where design was primary over ergonomics.

L1030136

ISO 400 – 1/6400 sec – f8.0

THE FIXED LENS

Leica paired a 28mm f/1.7 Summilux Aspherical lens to the Q body. And that was a stroke of genius. Leica glass is by far the best you can ever buy for any camera– bar none. The Summilux is their flagship top-of-the-line series. The 28mm is the most compact of all their lenses. You’re guaranteed beautiful sharp images with that signature Leica look. It makes the Q the best full frame fixed lens compact camera ever built. I don’t think there are many out there except the Sony Cyber-shot RX1R. Since it is a fixed lens, Leica decided to add digital zoom to 35mm and 50mm with the touch of a button on back of the top plate just below the shutter speed wheel. Frames pop up in the electronic viewfinder showing the crop lines of each focal length in typical range-finder fashion. The crop reduces the Jpeg image size to 15.4 and 7.5 Megapixels respectively but leaves the DNG RAW file in tact.

FYI- A curious thing happened in post production. I loaded these images into Lightroom 5 and pushed the contrast slider just a tad. I loaded it into this blog and realized I may have been heavy handed. But when I pushed the Reset button on the 35mm and 50mm images, they went back to full frame. When I hit the Previous button, I could not recover the 35mm framing but was able to recover the 50mm framing.

Leica Q 28mm

28mm ISO 400 – 1/5000 sec – f8.0 (click image to see full frame)

Leica Q 35mm

The image above is the full frame image of the 35mm because I lost the framed shot which I was able to save a lower resolution of it before I pressed the dreaded Reset Button in Lightroom. (click the above image to see full frame)

The image below was framed in camera. Obviously, there needs to be a fix by both Leica and Lightroom in Firmware and updates.

L1030127

35mm (digital zoom reduces the JPEG to 15.4 megapixels) ISO 400 – 1/5000 sec – f8.0

Leica Q 50mm

50mm (digital zoom reduces the JPEG to 7.5 megapixels) ISO 400 – 1/5000 sec – f8.0 (click image to see full frame)

I have been shooting street and all kinds of photography with the Leica’s 35mm f/1.7 Summilux lens. But since playing with the 28mm, I am enjoying the wider angle.

MACRO-OPTION

I love the built-in Macro allowing you to focus as close as 6 inches. It has a nifty distance ring that slides past the regular distance ring when you turn the macro dial around the lens. It has a very nice resistance feel and sound to it. This little addition makes the camera more of a go-to camera for everything from wide shots to detailed close-ups.

L1020675

ISO 400 – 1/5000 sec – f5.0 (indoor shot)

SENSOR

The camera takes advantage of a full-frame (24 x 36mm) CMOS sensor with 24.2 million effective pixels with no filters. That means it’s clean. And for a compact camera, it has a powerful professional Leica Maestro II processing engine similar to Leica’s S camera (medium format for professionals).

L1020842

ISO 25,000 – 1/640 sec – f1.7

ISO

Its range is from ISO 100 to 50,000. Combine that with f1.7 aperture and its low light capabilities is better than my Leica M240. It delivers images with detail even in the high ISO range without too much noise. I was pleased with Hand-Held images up to 25,000 ISO in low light. However, the grain started to creep in after ISO 25,000. BTW, Like all Leica cameras, it’s always better to under expose as the sensor allows you to pull details out of the shadows.

L1030059

ISO 400 – 1/200 sec – f8.0

AUTO FOCUS 

Up until now, Leica either never installed auto focus and if they did, they did so on the smaller compact cameras and they were painfully slow. The Q’s auto focus (AF) is the first one that is precise in real time. It does lose its precision when in extreme dim light situations. But that’s true of all auto focus that measures contrast.

I know you know what I mean when I say I lost so many potentially keeper images, all because I was fumbling with my focus, so I tend to zone focus (setting my aperture at f8 or f11). With the Q, I did try a few shots using manual focus, but I mainly shot in AF mode. It really enhanced my photography experience because for the first time I could concentrate on making the shot and not on focusing. I am convinced without the Q’s autofocus I would not have been able to capture the hand behind the curtain in my first image above or the woman walking in the background through the car window.

L1030047

ISO 400 – 1/250 sec – f8.0

PROCESSOR

For a compact camera, the Q has a powerful professional Leica Maestro II processing engine similar to Leica’s S camera (medium format for professionals). This allows high speed continuous burst shooting at 10 frames per second in full resolution.

L1030061

ISO 400 – 1/2500 sec – f8.0

EVF and TOUCH SCREEN

The 3″ LCD multi-touch screen has 1,040,000 pixels which is higher resolution than the M. You can zoom in and out of photos by pinching. It also allows you to move the focus point with the touch of a finger which comes in handy. I have to say, I used this option rather frequently.

The internal EVF has 3,680,000 pixels making it extremely clear and bright. I prefer this than the Live View in the LCD screen, which is bright but glare sometimes bounces off it.

L1020915

ISO 400 – 1/2500 sec – f5.6

MENU

The basic functions are pretty intuitive. The most intuitive of all Leica menus by far. However, I find that the menu in general has much too many options that are buried. I’m the type of person, out of sight, out of mind. There are so many functions that I just don’t know what to do with it. But I guess Leica erred of the side of more is better.

SHUTTER

Super quiet.

L1030145

ISO 400 – 1/5 sec – f1.7

IMAGE STABILIZER

This is Leica’s first camera to have a optical image stabilizer. This is perfect for someone like me who always tilts the camera when I press the shutter release, causing my images to often be blurry. See the night shot above? I shot it wide open at 1/5 sec. Now that’s image stabilization!

L1030179

ISO 400 – 1/80 sec – f4.0

L1030169

ISO 400 – 1/15 sec – f4.0

CONNECTIVITY

I did not have time to test the connectivity, but the idea totally intrigues me. It’s definitely an option I would like to explore.

L1030176

ISO 400 – 1/25 sec – f4.0

THE PRICE TAG

US$4250

In the big picture, I think it’s actually quite a bargain. Let me explain: A brand new Summilux 28mm F1.4 Aspherical lens is selling for $5950. The Q lens is a Summilux 28mm F1.7. The difference is hardly negligible. For $4250, you get a fabulous lens and a camera attached to it.

L1020696

ISO 100 – 1/500sec – f1.7

CONCLUSION

So what do I think about this camera? I love it. It’s the perfect street photography and all round camera. I am tempted to consider it as my back-up. It is like having a better mini M240. But as a Leica friend of mine summed it up so aptly: “if I bought a Q, I would never use my M.” I’m inclined to agree.

I hope this is the beginning of Leica working its way back to the forefront of camera technology that its original brand and reputation was built on. I understand they make handmade products and therefore need to stay in the luxury range for financial reasons. And because of that, they should be selling the ‘state of the art’, which has been slow in coming. But with the Q, I look forward to seeing Leica’s forward development.

L1020748

ISO 100 – 1/250 sec – f1.7

Advertisements

First Impression of the LEICA M MONOCHROM (Pre-production Model) PART 2

ISO 400, 1/350 sec, 35mm Summilux

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about my first impression of Leica’s M Monochrom camera. You can read Part 1 here. I promised to show a variety of images to give you a broader idea of how the camera captures black and white images. Well, here they are.

ISO 400, 1/500 sec, 35mm Summilux

Keep in mind, O and I only had two half days to play with the camera and we both struggled with “seeing in black and white” to really take advantage of the camera. We never really grasped the concept completely. It’s something you have to learn or re-learn, as the camera demands that of you.

ISO 400, 1/500 sec, 35mm Summilux

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, O and I are sold on playing more with the Monochrom. We can’t wait for the delivery our our new baby. We’ll be selling some Leica stuff soon to make way for it. So please keep an eye out for our eBay announcements within the next two months in Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. It will take a couple months to prepare ourselves mentally to “let go” of some of our other other Leica babies. 😉

ISO 400, 1/350 sec, 35mm Summilux

By the way, this time I increased the resolution of images for a finer view.

ISO 400, 1/750 sec, 35mm Summilux

ISO 160, 1/500 sec, 21mm Summilux

ISO 400, 1/250 sec, 21mm Summilux

ISO 400, 1/250 sec, 21mm Summilux

ISO 400, 1/350 sec, 21mm Summilux

ISO 400, 1/500 sec, 21mm Summilux

ISO 2500, 1/350 sec, 21mm Summilux

ISO 5000, 1/90 sec, 21mm Summilux

ISO 5000, 1/45 sec, 35mm Summilux

ISO 400, 1/750 sec, 35mm Summilux

ISO 400, 1/250 sec, 35mm Summilux

If you missed Part 1 of the Leica M Monochrom (Pre-production Model) Review, then you can check it out here.

# 7 CHARALAMPOS KYDONAKIS, Rethymnon Street Photographer

Leica Liker is honored to have Charalampos Kydonakis, a Rethymnon (Crete) Street Photographer as our #7 guest. He’s also known as Dirty Harrry [sic], author of a very informative and purely visual street photography blog – Dirty Blog.

If you’re like me, I began my street photography journey by poring over countless photography books and of course, the ubiquitous internet. One of the first websites I came across was Harrry’s ‘Dirty Blog’. It is a wealth of information. Photos upon photos, conveniently organized into categories and alphabetized. You can see some very inspirational photos by masters, contemporaries and even little known photographers.

What really drew my attention was not Harrry’s encyclopedic endeavors, although I very much appreciate it, but rather his own photographic work. Many of his photos are raw images (raw in the sense of visceral) of people and animals at night,  instilled with a surprised and sometimes nightmarish vision. They occasionally hark of alcoholic induced momentary flashes (literal with flash lighting) of  the figurative paintings of existentialist painter Francis Bacon. And with a little inspiration from master street photographer, Bruce Gilden to boot.

Harrry’s street photography work takes surrealism to another level, in particular his multiple exposure photographs. His use of allegory is whimsical, adding a layer to street photography that is not often seen. My favorite being the feature image here with the dog’s face overlaid over a woman smoking. Some have a twisted sense of humor which often appears even in his less ambitious street photographs. And his subjects are not always shown in the most positive light.

We live in a world where we are bombarded by images of flawless people, photo-shopped to absolute perfection no matter if you live in a developed or underdeveloped country. So it’s refreshing to see artistic images that poke fun or simply point out the banal side of our human selves.

Here is my interview with  CHARALAMPOS KYDONAKIS.

Nick Name: Dirty Harrry
Currently living in: Rethymnon, Crete
Motto: If I get to 80 years old, maybe I ‘ll have one.
Profession/Job: Architect

Street Photographer since: I started shooting street photos in 2008. But I consider myself just a guy with a camera shooting and not strictly a street photographer.
Street Photography Blogger since: March 2011
Websites: http://dirtyharrry.blogspot.com  and http://mydreamsyournightmare.blogspot.com

Favorite Street Camera & Lens: Canon E60D with a Voigtlander Colorskopar 20mm , f3.5
Back-up Street Camera & Lens:  I don’t carry a backup camera. I always carry a second battery and a second memory card. When the batteries run out or the cards fill up then it’s time to put the camera back in the bag and go get some rest.
Favorite photography gadget:  My bicycle and my sport shoes.
Favorite street food: Beer

Do you listen to music while shooting? No
Favorite music when editing Photos: Astor Piazzola, Vicente Amigo and many more.
Favorite photo software: I open the raw archives with Lightroom 3 and the jpegs with Photoshop CS4.

3 Favorite Master Photographers: Weegee, Martin Parr, Garry Winogrand, and  Diane Arbus. Sorry. I couldn’t end up with 3.
3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers:  Martin Parr, Bruce Davidson, Trent Parke
Which 3 photographers’ prints do you own? Unfortunately I don’t have prints by others. The only prints I own are about 30 of  mine. Unfortunately, I have not been able to see all my photos printed.

Color or Black and White? In the past, I shot only black and white. Now, I think  about 5-10% of what I shoot end up in black and white. I only turn to it for a few photos, mainly the ones that I shoot at night. It’s difficult for someone to throw away the easy vintage-romanticism of black and white photography and create something with valour in color terms. But I believe this is the challenge. I still like black and white photography and haven’t rejected it. But I think the future belongs to color.

Shoot Film or Digital? If there were someone to develop and print for me for free, maybe I would shoot film. Right now I think spending time and money in developing and printing can make someone a better printer, but not a better photographer. Time is more important to me than exposure tolerance, grain etc..

Is there a special time of the day you like to shoot or is any time good? I like to shoot early in the morning (unfortunately this can happen only on weekends and vacation), or 1-2 hours before sunset. The light in the beginning and the end of the day is beautiful.

But most of the time I prefer to shoot at night. It somehow has different rules from the day. In the day you can be invisible.  At night I use a flash. You can’t be invisible and I don’t’ care.  I just shoot. Most of the time it doesn’t work. But once in a while you get lucky. You just have to shoot a lot. It doesn’t matter if it’s day or night. The more you shoot; the more you read; the more you see what other people shoot; the more it helps your photography.

Why did you choose Street Photography and not another form of photography or stamp collecting?  I bought my first analog camera in 1997 while I was at university. It was required for my studies and work. At that time, I shot only buildings and urban spaces. In 2008 I bought a digital camera and started to shoot more. Then I saw some Magnum photos and realized that I would like my photos to tell human stories.

Street photography is what gives me adrenaline. But lately I have started to shoot anything and everything, not only street.

What motivates you to photograph the streets? I like the surprising wind that blows out there. You never know what to expect. It’s a challenge to walk endless hours trying to discover things around me.

Is Street Photography an obsession? I think photography is an obsession, no matter if it’s street or not.

Are you a lone shooter or do you like shooting with friends or a group? When I shoot strangers I want to be alone. It’s definitley fun to go out shooting with friends but if I look at the final result, all the times that we didn’t separate while walking I ended up with nothing. I need to concentrate. But I do have a few photos of my family and friends that I like. And finally, I don’t care if the subject is of strangers or friends or whatever. I just care that I end up with something worth viewing.

Favorite street photography city: I ‘ve shot in some European cities and it’s nice to shoot anywhere. But as everyone’s finest work is a result of how much time he has spent somewhere, I must say that my favorite photos I have are shot in my town, Rethymnon in Crete.

What inspires your photography?
-The work of masters of photography and a lot of contemporary photographers
-Movies by Sam Peckinpah, Akira Kurosawa and Luis Bunuel
-Books by Nikos Kazantzakis and Gabriel Garcia Marquez
-Alcohol

What do you look for in a good photograph?  The composition and the possible story that might come out of something unimportant that passed before the photographer’s eyes.

How do you go about shooting a street photograph? I always carry my camera with me. Whenever I see something that catches my attention I go close and shoot one or more photos.

Is there a philosophy or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? Back in 1997 when I was in university, we had a drawing and painting course. Instead of just drawing, my professor wanted us to present black and white photos of what we saw. So I bought my first camera. I learned how to ‘see’ and compose that way.

The main thing is I shoot a lot. I also spend time looking at other people’s photos. Maybe I get some ideas that way. I’m sure it’s in the back of my mind. So when I go out and shoot, I might see something and find a connection between what inspired me and what is in the street. But none of it is conscious.

As for aesthetic – My images may seem surreal but it is my effort to interpret reality. What I mean is, you see something real and then you give metamorphosis to it. If there is no metamorphosis, then you are just documenting life.  Documentation is somehow objective and I want it to be subjective. I want to tell my story. I’m not interested in documenting life.

I also love spontaneity. When I drink alcohol, I always experience spontaneity.

You’ve been shooting more multiple exposure shots. Is that your new aesthetic? I get bored doing the same thing. I wanted to try new things. There was a time I did ‘Gilden-type’ street portraits. This has its limits. I needed to get over it and move on. And street photography has its limits.  We must be as open minded as we can.  In the end, I don’t care about labels- I just care about what I see and if I like it or not.

Are the multiple exposure images planned or random? With multiple exposures, you only see the first frame. The second, third or subsequent layers are done by instinct. I know the focal length and I know my 35mm lens well and the specific angle I will get from a specific distance. That’s it.

When doing multiple exposures it’s more conceptual and less spontaneous. I have to think 2 or 3 frames in advance although the shots are made up of spontaneous un-posed moments. But in the back of my mind I have to try to combine these things.

Why did you start a street photography blog? I began with a Flickr account to post my work. But I wanted to really show my images. At the same time, I was looking at a lot of photos from other photographers. And I would come across photographic diamonds.  I discovered so many good things that I wanted to share them. I also want to see these gems again and again because they are inspirational to me. So I decided to present their work in my blog along with my own images.

You’ll notice my blog is about showing photos and not a lot about my opinion of the work or the photographers. I just want to show photos.  I get bored reading too much. For instance, I don’t care to read about tips.  Photography is about images.  I don’t care if the photographer is famous or not.

Why did you name your blog “Dirty Harrry Blog” (now titled Dirty Blog)? I don’t know. Harry is short for Charalampos. It’s  pronounced ‘Haralampos’. The ‘C’ is silent in Greek. And then there are my dirty photos.

Best 3 tips for shooting the streets:
What I usually do is:
-Try to forget everything and concentrate on what is happening around me.
-I shoot without thinking if it is right or ethical to shoot.
-When I ‘m out in the night, I drink beers.

Best single advice on how to improve your work: Forget anyone’s tips and just open your eyes.


Best single advice on how to edit your work: 

  • If edit is referring to processing: don’t edit too much.
  • If edit is referring to curation of your own stuff: ask 2 fellow photographers whose talent you trust 100% and have them tell you their opinion about your projects.

Best single advice for someone who wants to get into street photography: Shoot whatever can tell a story, no matter if it’s peopled subjects or unpeopled. No matter if it’s pure street or not.

What’s the best moment in your street photography career? I don’t have a career, that’s why I don’t know its best moment. However, I know the 2 most funny moments while shooting:

  •  In 2008 I went to Barcelona and the first day I took a photo of a girl walking. After one week I was shooting around, at some moment I went inside a church to rest a little and I saw her sitting nearby. I remembered her and showed her the photo in the camera and afterwards we went in the neighboring park of Ciudadella to ride a boat. Suddenly she started to sing Spanish songs as she was moving the paddles!
  • Once it was evening in my town and in an empty road there was only me and a couple hand in hand on the other side of the road. I went and took a flash portrait of the girl from a very close distance. Her boyfriend got mad with me and started to push me. I told him to relax and we started to talk. After 5 minutes he told me that he had a lens that he didn’t use and asked me if I was interested in buying it!

What’s the worst moment in your street photography career?  Once I went alone into a decadent bar to shoot photos at 4 o’clock in the morning. Everybody in that bar were like gangsters and criminals. I was excited to come upon such a subject. Unfortunately, I didn’t succeed in taking any photos because the owner of the bar pushed me out when he saw me with a camera in my hands. He threatened my life if he saw me again. The bad thing wasn’t that I was kicked out of that place or that I was threatened. The bad thing was that I didn’t take any pictures there.

What projects are you working on? I’ve been shooting street photography for many years. Now I think I am interested in anything: Landscape, portraits, still life. Every form has its difficulty and its charm. Shooting anything (or almost anything) helps me to observe better.

Where do you want to be in 5 years with regard to street photography? In the future I will try just not to get bored of what I shoot. Which finally means not to get bored of myself. If my photography will be street or whatever, I don’t really care.

Are there exhibitions planned in the future? I have an exhibition titled ‘CIVITAS RETHYMNAE’ from July 8 to August 30 at two different locations here in Crete, together with my friends Lukas Vasilikos (Leica Liker Interview #2) and Ania Vouloudi . Everyone is welcome 🙂

Leica Liker thanks Harrry for sharing his experience and inspirational advice with us. :-) We look forward to checking in on him in the future.

You can check out Harrry’s gear under “Liker Bags’n Gear here.

This is Harrry’s self portrait.

%d bloggers like this: