Analogue Vineyards

To me, shooting with a Leica M is already the essence of photography because it reduces the influence of technology to a bare minimum – even when shooting digitally. Shooting with film Leicas takes this experience even up a notch. As such, from time to time I like to fall back to my Leica MP, load it with film and let me surprise when I get the film back from development. Also, the post editing process is a lot more straight forward, there is no need for fancy filters or any other extensive retouching. The analogue film look in itself is the best Instagram filter anyone could hope for.

This time I loaded up my MP with a roll of Lomography XPro 200 and had it cross-developed. The subject of my taking photos was right around the corner of where I live – in the midst of vineyards. And I think the greenish tint and the very strong blue colors of the cross-developed Lomo helped the subject in this case.

Would you agree?

Spitzhaus

As I mentioned in my post earlier this week I’m no expert in long-time exposures. But taking photos of the lunar eclipse was a bit of a tedious exercise for my having to impatiently wait until the moon was in a position to be remotely photogenic. So what better can you do than to look around and take photographs of everything there is. Admittedly that’s not a lot at 10PM in the middle of a vineyard. But luckily there is a restaurant nestled on top of the vineyard that is beautifully lit at night.

Leica SL | Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. | 20 sec, f/8, ISO 50

Lunar Eclipse 2018

I’m not an expert in long-time exposures by a long shot, but the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a total lunar eclipse plus Mars being the closest to Earth, a combination apparently happening again in 105 000 years, I couldn’t resist tempting my fate. The conditions weren’t ideal, because it was a bit hazy shortly after moon rise, but later on when the moon would enter the Earth’s umbra, visibility became a lot better.

What I learnt later when editing the photos was that any exposure above 10 seconds would make the moon blurry, because, of course, the moon moves quite fast, so 10 seconds can already be too long.

The shot I selected was taken at 8 seconds, aperture of f/4 and ISO 50.

Admittedly, the Lux-50 is probably not the best lens to take shots of a small an object as the moon, so my expectations were quite low. That said, I think capturing the wider viewpoint, basically the way any observer would see it with the naked eye, has its own fascination.

This image was taken at 2220 CEST at the time of the maximum eclipse. Below the moon and a bit to the right you can see Mars as close as 57.6 million kilometers. The average distance is 228 million kilometers.

(Make sure you click on the image below to see the full res version.)

Mondfinsternis 2018

Leica SL | Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. | 8 sec, f/4, ISO 50

Monochrome Madness

Went a bit overboard with the post processing with this image. But sort of liked the punch in this case. Incredible also how well the Leica SL is rendering in Black & White conversions.

L1000454-Bearbeitet

Dresden, Großer Garten | Leica SL | Leica Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH. | 1/2000s, f/2, ISO 50

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 :).