Tacky Moritzburg

Normally I’m not very fond of the sort of dreamy images with glow and glare which are a bit reminiscent of wedding photography or equally romantic genres. But in this case I thought, why not. This castle has probably been photographed so many times from so many different angles and perspectives that a pinch of tackiness (if that’s a word) can’t hurt :).

Leica SL Typ 601 | Leica Vario Elmarit SL 2.8-4/24-90mm ASPH. | ISO 125 | 1/200s | f/4

Leica SL Typ 601 | Leica Vario Elmarit SL 2.8-4/24-90mm ASPH. | ISO 125 | 1/200s | f/4

The Leica SL – A Quick Test

Leica SL Typ 601 | Leica Vario Elmarit SL 2.8-4/24-90mm ASPH. | ISO 50 | 1/60s | f/4

Leica SL Typ 601 | Leica Vario Elmarit SL 2.8-4/24-90mm ASPH. | ISO 50 | 1/60s | f/4 (click to see the full-res version, edited in Lightroom and Color Efex Pro)

The Leica Store Berlin is currently offering a free-of-charge test of their Leica SL camera. Smart people, they are, at Leica. They know exactly what will happen to people who put their hands on an SL: “It’s a trap!” you want to scream out loud. And of course, I went straight into it, got me an SL for three days to thoroughly and objectively test it, and here I am, completely sold on it.

When I picked up the camera yesterday, the weather forecast was anything but ideal. It was raining, windy, no sunshine whatsoever and everything was grey, no light, no shadows. But I thought, if the camera is able to cope with these conditions, it will probably excel in any other.

I was really skeptical at first. The SL isn’t the first new camera I tested, so I wasn’t expecting any leaps in terms of image quality over the DSLRs I currently own (Nikon D800, D700) or my Leica M Monochrom. The latter in particular, because the M lenses have this very unique rendering that is probably very hard to top. All in all I was expecting a somewhat better performance, noticeable, but worth the hefty price tag?

Included in the test kit was also the new Vario Elmarit SL 2,8-4/24-90mm ASPH. and in particular for this lens I was extremely skeptical. Its sheer weight and size and the fact that it is a zoom lens, to me, this is really a hard sell. I could just keep my Nikon gear if I wanted to keep schlepping a ton of lenses around.

But let’s cut to the chase, here is the verdict in terms of image quality: With my M lenses (Summilux 50mm and Summicron 35mm) the image quality of the SL is simply stunning. The color rendition, the bokeh, micro contrast, sharpness overall and just the way it renders the image left me speechless. When compared to the images of my D800 with excellent prime lenses (like the 1.4/85mm) the Leica SL is miles ahead. And the D800 is probably still one of the best DSLRs in that segment.

I can’t really compare the SL to any other digital M other than my M Monochrom. And these are two completely different approaches to photography. What I did though was a very quick comparison of how monochrome images out of the SL would compare to those from the M Monochrom. And here the M Monochrom takes a slight, but noticeable win home. That said, I didn’t really apply any extensive conversion to the SL images, so I’m sure if done right, you can get close to the image quality of the M Monochrom.

But what about the Vario Elmarit? Well, here I’m a bit uncertain, still. The image quality is not on par with the Leica M prime lenses. The differences are subtle but distinctive. In particular micro contrast and bokeh. Also, the overall look of the M lenses is more pleasing. On the pro side the Vario Elmarit is extremely versatile, because it’s a zoom lens. On my small hike to the Schloss Moritzburg (see picture above) through pretty heavy rain, I only took the Vario lens, because I didn’t want to change lenses while the rain was pouring down. With just one prime lens I probably would have missed a couple shots. Also, the autofocus is excellent and of course makes shooting a lot easier. Which in turn is a bit of a deviation from the way I use to photograph with the M Monochrom. With the Monochrom it just takes much more time for composition. With the SL and the Vario zoom it’s more a DSLR “shoot and forget” experience. Not so sure I like that :).

And of course apart from the image quality the usability of the SL is just outstanding. Autofocus is just one example, but the Eye-Res viewfinder is a pleasure to work with. The ability to “WYSIWYG” is a real benefit. Also, the 4k video mode is in a completely different league compared to what I’m used to from my Nikon D800.

So, with all that said, the odds of me parting with my DSLR equipment and changing over to the SL (with or without the Vario Elmarit) are not exactly slim :). In the end my blog may become a bit more colorful again :).

People at the Getty

When it comes to photography and museums I typically find myself more interested in the visitors than the actual exhibition. It’s a bit exaggerated I admit, however, from a photographic standpoint there is nothing less interesting than photographing other people’s artwork. So even at the Getty I found myself taking more pictures of people than art.

Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 | Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. | ISO 320 | 1/2000s | f/2

Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 | Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. | ISO 320 | 1/2000s | f/2

More Getty

As I mentioned in my previous post the architecture of The Getty is at least as interesting as the exhibitions themselves. Just strolling through the vast gardens and terraces was a pleasure on its own.

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Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 | Leica Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH. | ISO 320 | 1/2000s | f/2.8

Arts and Mammoths

Next stop: Los Angeles. Fortunately a friend of mine lives in LA. So I got a plethora of great tips what to see and where to go. If I had done everything he recommended I would probably still be there.

On my first day in LA I arrived only in the afternoon, so there wasn’t too much time left in daylight. One of the things I was able to check off my list though was the “Le Brea Tar Pits” – basically a hole filled with natural asphalt and an exhibition with fossils of primal lifeforms like mammoths and saber-toothed cats (German: Säbelzahntiger) attached to it. Directly adjacent to the pits is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). I didn’t go into the museum itself, but I thought the architecture was fascinating. If you have more time to spend in LA it’s probably worth doing a tour in the actual museum though.

 

Aalborg

I recently visited Aalborg on a business trip. I was amazed by the somewhat surreal light which shun through the clouds like through a milky glass ceiling. That together with the apparent relaxed lifestyle that seems to slow down everything in Aalborg (or perhaps in Denmark in general?) made quite an impression on me. I’m not sure if I would like to live up there, for that I reckon I like it a tad warmer, and I would like to have shops open a bit longer than till 4, but for a few days I can very much relate to the slightly decelerated way of living.

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Aalborg | Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) | Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. | ISO 320 | 1/125s | f/2.8

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Aalborg | Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) | Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. | ISO 320 | 1/500s | f/2.8

L2460175-SFXPro

Aalborg | Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) | Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. | ISO 320 | 1/250s | f/4

Back in Time: Old-School Photography Meets Modern Photo Editing

It was more by accident that yesterday I stumbled upon an old photograph of a condemned building that used to be a service point for trains, cars and other rail vehicles. I took it at a time when I was really into photographing old, abandoned, condemned houses. That was in 1997, in other words 18 years ago…

This series I shot in Black and White film, a Fuji Neopan 400 Professional. Looking at these old photographs and toying around with them a bit in Lightroom 6 I quickly became fascinated again by the character of the old film images and the latitude the scanned negatives still provided when using modern photo editing tools.

So I decided to re-scan and re-touch some of them using my Nikon Scanner LS 40 ED (aka Coolscan IV ED), Silverfast 8 and Lightroom 6.

And so here you go. Enjoy watching them as much as I enjoyed taking, excavating and bringing them back to “light” again :).