It's always wise to carry a spare battery while shooting. Batteries seem to die at the most inopportune moments. Remember when you bought your Leica M camera and there were those little bags of extra goodies that were looked at once and then thrown in the drawer? I use one of those extras all of the time. The DC cable for the battery charger is so often overlooked. It is a pro trick to charge your batteries while traveling between locations during the day. Never again do I have to stop shooting because I don't have a charged battery.
IKEA has teamed up with Hasselblad to make Fine Art Photography available to the masses. The prints are mostly in the 20" X 30" size. They sell for from $20 - $25. I have seen them in the store and the are well done. Supposedly this is a test run to see if original artwork sells in their stores. I would like to see this catch on as it would allow photographers to get their artwork in the hands of a lot of people and make some money. The images were taken with Hasselblad cameras.
If you are thinking about buying a Leica CL or wanting a backup body for your Leica M10 there is a great offer you might want to jump on. If you buy a Leica Cl or a CL kit you instantly get a M-adapter for using your M lenses on the CL. It's such a good offer that I might pick-up a CL.
Purchase a Leica CL body or Leica CL Vario kit and receive a M-Adapter L (retailed at $395). With this adapter, you can mount 49 different M-Lenses, both contemporary and classic, to the Leica CL with ease. M-Lenses are compact and discreet, delivering the highest quality images even in low light.
Offer ends September 30, 2018. Use the Dealer Locator here to contact a Leica Store, Boutique or Dealer to learn more about this special offer.
Take full advantage of the legendary Leica S, R and Cine-Lenses. Various L-Adapters are made available to easily mount to the CL-system, providing you with unlimited access to an array of Leica lenses.
Leica is getting into the watch business. Today Leica announced that they are entering the watch business. My first reaction was shock and skepticism. I’m an Apple fan and have been following what they have been doing to the watch business with great interest. Apple is just steam rolling the industry with the Apple Watch. I have a long fascination with high-end Swiss watches. Specifically the Rolex. I own a Submariner and I just love it. Something about fine European craftsmanship that I’m attracted too. At the same time I appreciate why the Apple Watch has become so popular. It’s usefullness when combined with an iPhone is impressive. So much so that I recently purchased one for my wife. She loves it and wears it all of the time.
I can see why Leica is moving in this direction. The company is doing well and selling their products as fast as they can make them but there are only so many people that will by a Leica camera. With watches Leica can enter a market where they can exploit their strengths namely small items made with the utmost in mechanical precision. Looking at the big picture it is a sensible gamble. Most people that buy their cameras would be a logical customer for a Leica Watch.
The photos of their new watch so a blend of traditional and current design trends. This Watch is obliviously not a product that is being rushed to the market to capture some recent fad. Leica has been around for more than 100 years and is obviously planning for 100 more. I wish them luck.
Using the Leica 28mm 5.6 Summaron is like going back 60 years in time. It looks like a lens from the 50's. The feel of the lens is nothing like what is being produced today. And the images have kind of a film look to them that gives a retro vibe.
The original 28mm Summaron 5.6 was first manufactured from 1955 to 1963 and was available only as a screw mount lens. It did not appear in Leica catalogs until 1963. The 28mm Summaron was actually a good selling lens because in the short time frame that it was available 6,228 lenses were made. Even though it was screw mount only remember that adapters were used to allow the lens to work on bayonet mount cameras. The optical design was the same as today’s lens. A bayonet version of the lens was announced by the Leica Photography Magazine in the spring 1956 issue but was never produced. There is one prototype known to exist so the lens was close to production.
The 28mm Summaron 5.6 lens was introduced by Leica in the fall of 2016. It is generally hard to find at the dealers because Leica is simply not making many and most are being scooped up by collectors. Last year Leica released another retro lens, the Thambar. Hopefully we will see more of these speciality lenses.
In use I find that the lens turns my M10 into a point and shoot camera. When focused at about 10 feet at f11 the hyper focal range is from about 4 feet to infinity. For most shooting there is no reason to focus. Although the 5.6 aperture seems like it would limit the usefulness the lens this is not the case. On bright days an aperture of 5.6 is very acceptable and when the light drops just raise the ISO as needed. On the M10 noise is well controlled to 1600. Also remember Leica lenses are designed to be shot wide open so the is no quality deduction for shooting wide open. There is some vignetting on the edges but nothing that can’t be easily fixed in Lightroom. I would describe the Summaron as a medium contrast lens. That is why earlier I described the lens as having a film look. Some early reviews of the lens complained that it was soft. I disagree, no it does not resolve detail like the 50mm apo, but it not supposed to. In actual use it is as sharp as other Leica lenses and I have the enlargements that will verify this. Pixel peepers are never happy.
The main reason that I chose this lens over the 2.0 or 2.8 28mm lenses was its size. I have enough speed lenses so having a small lens that could fit in the corner of my bag was appealing. I tend to carry 2 Leica bodies with me so a lighter lens made the choice easier. And I must admit it is one cool looking lens. The retro vibe was hard to resist.
Comparing the 28mm Summaron to a 35mm Summicron you get a sense of just how small this lens is. It is easy to get photos of your fingers if you don’t adjust your grip on the camera after focusing. A M10 and a 28mm Summaron could easy pass as a point and shoot camera when you are in a crowd. It is so small most people are used to seeing Nikons and Canons so a M10 with this lens is a lot less intimidating.
A 28 mm lens is not my first choice for a lens on a Leica, that would be a 50mm. It is not even my second choice, that belongs to a 35mm lens. But I find that when shooting busy street scenes I am liking more around my subject so that I can tell a more complete story. I guess that Garry Winogrand was right after all.
Being a diehard Leica rangefinder fan I was at first skeptical on the need for an accessory viewfinder for my Leica M10. I have been using a rangefinder for so many years that focusing is second nature for me. But I understand that it takes awhile for some to become proficient with a rangefinder and other people just like electronic viewfinders better but they like the size and quality of a Leica M camera. Another reason to choose the accessory viewfinder is that on a Leica there are no frame lines for lenses wider than 28mm so an external viewfinder is necessary. With film cameras optical viewfinders are available but they are not an ideal solution. The image is small and there is no exposure information. You have to focus and set the exposure though the cameras viewfinder then use the external viewfinder for framining. Less than ideal but that was the way it was done for decades.
My reason for trying the Visoflex was because of one particular lens. The Noctilux. I have a 1.0 Noctilux that I enjoy the images that it produces but it is a notoriously difficult lens to focus. The newer 0.95 Noctilux is noticeably sharper but doesn’t have the glow that the 1.0 has. I just like the images that it creates. But I have been disappointed in my percentage of keepers with this lens. I have sent my Leica’s in to have the rangefinders matched to the lens in the past but I was still not satisfied with the results.
On a recent visit to the Leica store I tried the 1.25 optical magnifier and the Visoflex to see if I could improve my focusing. The optical viewfinder was ok but not what I wanted. The Visoflex was a revelation. The viewfinder was much sharper than the previous model for the Leica M240. It also had a faster refresh rate.
Notice the built in diopter on the side. I wish that Leica could add one to the rangefinders.
The image that is shown in the Visoflex is the same image that is shown on the back of the camera when Live View is being used. To use the camera Live View is turned on and you look through the Visoflex. A sensor detects that you are looking through the Visoflex and it turns off the back screen and turns on the image in the Visoflex. It is a nice sharp image. When the lens is focused the image comes into focus. Also the default settings zoom the center of the image and turns on focus peaking. As long as there is enough contrast in the scene the little “ red ants “ really help achieving correct focus. After an exposure the results appear on the screen for about a second and then it reverts back to the Live View.
The Visoflex has a built in GPS unit so you can geotag your images. If you travel that can be a very handy feature.
Closeup view of the Visoflex in use.
The Visoflex was very well designed. It is small but not to small. It looks good on the M10.
The Visoflex can be tilted to accommodate shooting at different angles.
It can also be tilted 90 degrees to make shooting like a Rolleiflex possible. I find people really don’t pay attention when shooting in this manner. It appears that you are shooting straight down.
The image through the Visoflex is the same as seen on the back of the camera when Live View is activated. As shown above you can see that it provides a very high quality image. No it’s not as good as seen in a Leica SL or a Leica Q but it not far behind.
I am very happy that I have decided to give the Leica Visoflex a try. My keeper rate has gone from 20 - 30 percent to better than 80 percent. I now have more confidence when shooting with my Noctilux and I will probably carry it with me a lot more often.
Leica Q in use
While waiting for my wife while she was shopping I noticed a Leica being used in an advertisement. A mens clothing store called ETON has a guy holding a Leica Q in their main advertisement. I always enjoy it when Leica's show up in unexpected places.
Apple's bluetooth AirPod headphones are maybe the purest expression of the Apple design philosophy. One look at them and it’s obvious this is an Apple product. Small and sleek, simple to use, no extra features, and they look like no other product on the market.
I don’t often talk about non photography products but these little headphones have found a permanent place in my camera bag so I decided to spend a few minutes talking about them.
When unboxing the AirPods the first thing that came to mind is that the case reminds me of the original iPod. All white with a touch of chrome on the back. The choosing to have the case serve double duty as the charging station was a brilliant choice. Looking back it seems like an obvious way to charge Bluetooth headphones, and that kind of design is what we expect from Apple. The case has a lightning port for charging and I was pleasantly surprised to find a lightning cable included in the package.
The AirPods work with all of the current and recent products that have the newer version of the Bluetooth protocol. That would include the iPhone, iPad, iMacs, and Apple laptops. It takes longer to explain how to pair the AirPods to an Apple product than it takes to actually complete the process. The secret is your Apple ID. Once’s paired with one product the information syncs to your other devices so that they are ready to connect immediately. First remove the case with the headphones from the retail packaging but don’t open them just yet. To pair iOS devices 10.3 and later first turn on the device and make sure Bluetooth is turned on. Take the case and place it within 2 inches of your iOS device and open the top. In a few moments a screen that says connect will appear, press connect and in a few seconds you’ve paired with your device and are ready to listen to music.
Like I said earlier the case is the charging station. On the bottom is a port for connecting a lightning cable. This is the same cable that charges an iPhone or iPad. When the case opens a small LED between the AirPods shows the charge status of the buds. Green means they are charged, Orange when they need some charging. The case stores extra energy when it is connected to a charger. That way if they run out of juice when away from home you can pop them in the case which will charge them for another 24 hours of use.
People that have never used the AirPods assume that they fall out easy and are worried about loosing them. I have found that they stay in my ears better than the wired headphones. I think the biggest problem with wired headphones is that the cord is always getting tugged. With no cables to get tangled the wireless buds stay surprisingly snug. Another concern is sound quality. To put it simply they sound great. Lots of bass and the volume is sufficient for all types of music and podcasts. AirPods are not noise canceling headphones so they would not be the choice for a trip on an airplane. But for most other uses they are great.
When I’m out shooting by myself away from everyone I have wanted to listen to music on my phone. The cords from standard headphones are always getting tangled with my camera strap so I don’t often listen to music. Ever since receiving my AirPods they are always in my camera bag.
One word of caution is that I don’t recommend listening to music in an urban environment when photographing. Stay aware of the people around you when photographing. Thieves are everywhere.
This was probably the most entertaining workshop that I have ever attended. It was sponsored by Alvin's Photo which was a Leica only dealer in Pasadena, California. Alvin's had a huge selection of used Leica cameras and lenses. If you were a Leica fan and you lived in Southern California sooner or later Alvin's Photo was your favorite store.
Leica USA brought a lot of new and used equipment to see. It was great to here from the experts about the ins and outs of Leica's and to be feed some of the little secrets. Remember this is long before the internet so this opportunity was golden for me. This was the first time I meet Ebi Kuehne the famed specialist from Leica. I have talked to him many times over the years but have never introduced myself. My Bad
The highlight for me were listening to Costa Manos and Fred Maroon talking about their latest work. True photography masters and long time Leica users. I was sitting next to the gentleman that won the grand prize, a platinum Leica M6 with matching 50mm 1.4 summilux lens. So close.
I have been photographing the coastal cities in Orange County for the last 20 years. It is scenic and the weather can always be counted on to be some of the best in Southern California. I decided to do some one camera, one lens shooting. Limiting the amount of equipment that you shoot with is a great way to focus your compositional skills.
My first stop was Laguna Beach. Laguna Beach is a very affluent city and also quite photogenic. It is a popular destination for surfers and the locals that want to spend a day at the beach. So that you don’t make a long drive to the city to be disappointed I will warn you that Drones are banned in the city of Laguna Beach. What a shame. The beaches and shoreline are some of the best in Southern California. They aggressively monitor for drones and for photographers doing commercial photography. makes sure you get a permit for wedding or portrait sessions down at the beach.
At a quick stop at the Fashion Island mall in Newport Beach I ran into another Leica owner. He was shooting with a Leica SL. This was the first time that I have seen someone shooting with the SL. I have seen plenty of the “M” series. We chatted for a few minutes, always nice to hear other Leica stories.
My other photography location was at the Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa. The largest shopping mall in the South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. It is full of the high end stores and is a popular destination for tourists. The Segerstrom family built the mall and later built the Segerstrom Center that is a short walk across the street from the mall. It is a large complex that puts on plays and musicals year round. It it well regarded for its quality of entertainment. There are many sculptures around the center.
The Segerstrom Center owns a sculpture by one of my favorite artists, Richard Serra. The sculpture “ Connector “ was installed in 2006. It is a 64-foot by 20-foot 360-ton steel sculpture. Walking around and inside of a Richard Serra sculpture is something that everyone should experience.
Spending the day with just my M10 and 35mm summicron just makes me appreciate my little rangefinder. Not everyone bonds with a camera and I guess it is not really necessary, it is just a tool after all. But I must admit Leica rangefinders have become a part of me and they are my favorite tool for creating art.
I recently replaced my Epson 3880 with the newer Epson P800. Before the printer arrived I started a search for a proper stand. The P800 weighs 43 pounds is a large printer measuring 26.9 x 14.8 x 9.9 inches. An old card table is just not going to be sufficient to support such a large printer. I also wanted drawers for storing paper, ink, and extra supplies.
A google search provided no satisfying results so I next tried Amazon. After a lot of false starts and dead ends I gave up. I wanted a sturdy stand that seemed durable and and was just a bit bigger than the printer. I have gone through lots of printers at home and where I used to work and the thing that always bothered me was when the stand would shake when the printer was doing its business. Also I wanted a stand with wheels so that I could move the printer between workstations when needed. while walking through Wal-Mart I noticed tool chests in the hardware department. Back to Amazon to look at tool chest. No lunch again, so I decided to try Wal-Mart.com. I was just about to give up when I came across what looked like the perfect stand.
The stand I settled on is made by a company called Seville Classics. It is a tool chest in their Ultra HD series. The chest measures 28" W x 25" D x 34.5" H and weighs 109 pounds. It is a solid well built piece of hardware. As they some assemble is required. It took about 2 1/2 hours to assemble the cabinet. The model I purchased is the UHD20225B. There are 2 other models that are similar, they just have different door configurations.
As you can see the Epson P800 fits perfectly on the top of the stand with plenty of room on the front and the back for extending the printers doors. The sides are metal and I have been using them as a note boards by attaching post-it notes. I have also stuck a magnetic digital thermometer on the side that also shows the humidity for the room. The wheels are large and roof smoothly even on carpet. The bottom corners have rubber bumpers to protect the surroundings when moving the cart. A large grab bar extends across the front of the unit.
My Seville Classics printer cart is one nice printer stand that is a great addition to my post processing workflow. It’s not cheap, around $250, but I am very happy that I have it in my studio.
Using a Leica M camera takes some getting used to. Most photographers these days have never owned a manual focus camera. The thought of buying a very expensive camera that is only manual focus can be intimidating. But just like anything it just takes a little practice.
The most often give advice for new Leica owners is to buy a wide angle lens and zone focus and let the large depth of field do the work. This would be to focus at 10 feet with an aperture of f8 and the in-focus area would extend from about 7 feet to almost 20 feet with a 35mm lens. Good advice, nothing wrong with that advice. That is great for using the camera for point and shoot style when street shooting. But remember that when using a 50mm lens the area the is covered at the same aperture is a lot less. That is why the 35mm lens is probably the most popular first lens that a Leica owner buys.
Another trick that you can use to speed up your focusing is to return the lens to infinity after every shot. That way when you focus you always start by turning the lens the same direction. Since focusing starts at the same place every time muscle memory will make your focusing faster. Also the mind starts to develop a feel for how far to turn the lens to achieve focus at different distances.
The best advice that I can give is get out there and take lots of photos. Your seeing will improve and focusing will get easier with experience.
Sit back, I'm going off topic today. A visit with a friend and a tone deaf blog post have collided to cause me to look inward about life.
Two nights ago we had a friend over for dinner to tell us about his recent trip. A two week trip got no more than 5 minutes of conversation. The rest of the 2 hours was filled with a rant about his health. My friend has a serious arthritic issue with his neck and has recently developed an intestinal problem. He has been going to the doctor but like a portion of our population he is wary of doctors and resorts to getting medical advice from friends and youtube videos. Yes, sad. He has stopped taking his medicine because he feels that it is causing him pain. The same pain that is causing him to take the medicine in the first place. He just doesn't see what is going on. His friends are telling him that doctors don't want to heal people, they are just in it for the money. The clerk at the health food store is practicing medicine with out a license and has convinced him to stop his medicine and take natural supplements. He is getting worse and worse, frequently going to the emergency room. I have talked to him and I worry for my friend.
Episode 2 was a recent blog post at a site that I regularly read. The author spent numerous paragraphs explaining his different personality. Then he got into the subject of his blog post. He felt that a person should change camera brands because a camera has been on backorder since it started shipping at the end of last summer. I initially just closed the tab and thought that was 5 minutes that I won't get back. But the I started to think about my friends visit.
How do you determine that you are living a life of quality. It's easy to live a life of quantity. Amazon prime gets you anything in two days. Any knowledge you wish is just a few clicks away at Google. My friend is not living a quality life. He is suffering but worse yet he is the cause of some of his suffering. In my opinion the guy that wrote the blog post is not living a quality life. How can you have a life of quality when everything big and small is a struggle. Life is hard enough but is even harder when you are the cause of your own pain. Misplaced priorities are missed opportunities.
So what does this have to do with photography? Rise above the weeds and look at the sky. Get out of you own way. There has to be a reason for creating the images that you make. Create images that have meaning. Create images that have feeling. The 2 people that I have talked about above have very different problems. One his life could be in danger if he doesn't make some real life altering choices. The second is disillusioned about what is important in life. Don't just do stuff. Live life. It's your choice, what are you going to do?
Since going digital people don’t seem to use filters on their lenses as much as they used to. Say you want to use a glass ND filter on your lens. First you need to remove the UV filter, more surfaces cause image degradation. But since the UV filter has been on since you bought the lens it seems to be stuck. How to get it off? The first thing is to find a roll of gaffers tape. Lay the roll on a sturdy table. Take the lens off you camera. Stand the lens on the gaffers tape with the filter end down so it is resting on the roll of tape. Grab the lens firmly and press down and turn. The filter will be slightly pressed into to stickiness of the tape to hold it in place and will have enough grip to release the filter from the lens. This might take a few tries but it will come off. Make sure how have a good grip on the lens. You don’t want it sailing across the room
This will not work if the lens has been dropped. You can email me on instructions on how to get a broken filter off, even if the glass is broken. That is not for the faint of heart, but is not hard.
Operating a Leica M camera is similar to operating any other camera but there are a few additional precautions that can be taken to ensure quality photographs. Stay in touch with the basics of camera handling, they will pay off in the long run. Remember it is you that takes a photograph, not the camera. The camera only records an image. You are the creative part of the process.
- Always keep the viewfinder window clean. Easier to compose and less glare.
- A sharp and properly framed image can only be obtained by holding the camera correctly. None of this one handed stuff.
- Focus with the camera horizontal and rotate to vertical if needed. It is just more natural that way.
- Preset exposure before hand and just focus and compose at the moment of exposure. Be prepared.
- Gently press the exposure button. Don't jab at it.
- Always use a lens hood. Keeps the lens clean and protects the lens from stray light.
- learn to shoot with both eyes open. Makes you aware of your surroundings and you see elements entering the frame.
- When using wide-angle lenses, prefocus. Use depth of field to your advantage.
- Don't carry too much equipment. Don't get bogged down with equipment.
- Use large apertures. Isolates the subject.
- Use continuous advance sparingly. Select the proper moment.
- Practice holding the camera low and high. You never know when a different view will come in handy.
- Use a tabletop tripod for slow shutter speeds. Brace the tripod against your chest.
- A wide-angle lens stopped down is great for snap shooting.
- Get close. Old advice but it is good advice.
- Always carry a spare battery. no power=no photographs.
Get out there and take photographs. Your not a photographer if you don't make images.
When Leica introduced the M10 in January of 2017 most of the updates to the camera were refinements of existing features. One of the new features was designed to address the needs of the Instagram age. With the ability to create or connect to a WiFi network Leica has added the ability to the M10 to transfer and upload images to an iPhone or IPad so the images can be transferred to a social media platform or sent to a recipient while still on location without the need of a computer. The M-APP is a native iPad program and works great.
There is no external WiFi button on the camera to turn on wireless networking. But since the M10 has the ability to make a “Favorites” menu there is no need to dive through all of the menu options. To activate the WiFi press the “Menu” button and scroll through the options to select the “WLAN” function. In the sub-menu switch function to on, in the same sub-menu select connect, and there either “Create WLAN” or “Join WLAN”. The “Create WLAN” is the easiest as this creates a WiFi network for a direct connection to the M10.
The connection has to be set-up prior to actually creating the network. In the WLAN sub-menu, enter the camera name in SSID/Network Name (if desired). This is done in a keyboard sub-menu, exactly as described on p. 190 of the manual. Enter a network password at Password (if desired). This is also done in a keyboard sub-menu, as described.
Once the Leica M10 is ready to transfer images go to your smart device and select the cameras WiFi network that you have created. Launch the M-APP that can be downloaded from the Apple APP store or from the Google store. In the screen that is presented you will be asked if you wish to connect with the cameras network. Click yes and after a short time the app will connect. As a reminder the password for connecting to the camera WiFi network is easily retrieved, it is stored in the WLAN sub menu under the network name so that you can’t forget the password.
Once connected to the camera you have 3 options for operating the camera. There is a Live View that enables you to take photos from a tablet or phone. You can browse the images on the camera and transfer them to your device. And there is a wide range of settings that can be adjusted on the camera.
Being able to transfer images from the M10 to a smart device is one of the useful features that Leica has added. The app is stable and very responsive. As expected using the WiFi feature does drain the battery faster, so you might want to keep a spare battery handy.
The evolution of the digital M series camera is complete with the introduction of the Leica M10. What started with the Leica M8 in September 2006 and continued with the announcement of the Leica M9 in September 2009 to the Leica M(240) in September 2012 has culminated in the Leica M10. The Leica M10 is logical evolution of the wildly popular M(240). This is the camera that the Leica community has wanted since the announcement that Leica was going to port the rangefinder system to the digital world.
After getting a feel for the camera and shooting some images that I took back to my Mac to inspect I added my name to the waiting list at the Hollywood Leica store. I was quoted 6 months before I would get my camera. I was surprised when just over 3 months later I received a message that my camera was ready for pickup. After a false start because of 2 small defects I picked up another camera and I stared testing my new camera. I still have my Leica M(240) so the M10 was my backup until I was comfortable with how it performed in different situations.
If you have ever handled a Leica M series camera before the first thing you will notice is how much smaller and lighter the camera is compared to previous Leica digital cameras. In fact the camera has the same thickness as the famous M4 from the 1960’s. The cameras dimensions are 139mm x 38.5mm x 80mm and weighs 660g. Compare this to the previous model the M(240) at 139mm x 40mm x 80mm and weighs 680g. It feels much smaller and lighter in the hand than the numbers make it sound. With the smaller size comes a smaller battery. I have always carried two batteries with my cameras so that is not that big of a deal. The M10 batteries are smaller and I been getting about 500-600 exposures per charge. Compare that to about 800 exposures with my M(240). I don't consider that a big deal, I have not had a problem getting through the day with 2 batteries.
In actual use the biggest surprise for me with the M10 has been the viewfinder. It is spec’d at 30% larger and in use it really is easier to use. I wear glasses and I don't have to shift my eye around to see the full frame when using wide angle lenses. I also seem to have a much higher rate of keepers because the camera really is easier to focus. The previous cameras have had viewfinder magnifications from .68 to .72 so the .73 on the M10 which gives a 50% increase in viewing distance which is great for eyeglass wearers. . It also is easier to see the 28mm frame lines. I zone focus frequently with wide angle lenses but I do most of my shooting with a 50mm in close so I actually focus the lens for most images. Most people are advised to use zone focusing all of the time when switching to Leica. I come from the days of film so I have lots of practice manually focusing. Even since the switch to autofocus I usually manually focus for portraits.
At first glance the most obvious change to the M10 is the switch to a manual knob for setting the ISO. It is nice to know what the ISO is set at when picking the camera up but as far as changing the speed I prefer the old method of holing the ISO button and spinning the thumb wheel. The ISO knob is set by lifting from the base and the turning to the desired ISO. When I first got the camera I had some difficulty with the dial, turns out it is harder to pull up when grabbing at the top. Better to grab the base. The ISO dial indicates speeds from 100-6400. When going into the menus the speed can be changed up to 50000. I set the “M” to ISO 800, that is my sweet spot for high speed that still keeps the grain at a minimum and still has good IQ.
The layout for the controls are pretty spartan on “M” cameras and the M10 is no different. Looking at the camera from the front the most obvious feature are the rangefinder windows. The Leica red dot is proudly placed in the top center but I usually use black tape top cover mine. The Lens selector arm has returned so that you can preview the frame lines for the different lenses. The lens release button is at the 9:00 position on the lens mount. The focus button for setting the exposure compensation and other features. On the top is the shutter release button, the on/off switch, the shutter speed dial, and the flash shoe and ISO dial. The back has the rotary dial, the 4 way pad with center button, the Menu/preview LCD, and the Live View, Play and Menu buttons. The bottom is removed to access the battery and the SD card. The SET and ISO buttons have been removed from the previous cameras which makes the back of the camera very minimalist.
The camera uses a new sensor that is the same 24MP as the previous model but with the new second generation image processor gives a little better quality image. In my opinion the sensor is about 1 1/2 stops better than the previous M sensor. It is similar to the sensor in the Leica SL or the Leica Q and a vast improvement over the M9 CCD sensor. I really do like the look of the M10 sensor. It has a rich color fidelity and accurate skin tones. Much was recently made about the quality of the Leica sensor and how it compares to the Nikon, Canon and Fuji sensors. I agree it might be slightly behind but for me it is the whole package that counts the most and I simply prefer the Leica rangefinder system.
The M10 has a lot of little refinements. It is better sealed against moisture and dust. It is not waterproof. It still has the Gorilla Glass the protects the LCD. The Menu system can now be organized into favorites. When I go into the menus it seems that I only change a handful of settings so this has turned out to be a real timesaver. Wi-Fi connectivity is now an option for transferring images and controlling the camera. The LEICA M-App is available for iOS and Android. The app runs on the iPad natively and is smooth to work with. Live view and focus peaking have been refined for a better experience. The on/off switch has eliminated the “C” option for continuous shooting which can be modified in the menus. Leica has chosen to remove video recording from the Leica M10. I personally think this is a good decision. Video recording is just not something I want to do with a rangefinder camera. I have dedicated cameras for video and I just don't see a M10 user wanting to record video.
In use the camera is responsive and produces excellent images. With the image buffer increased to 2GB you can get 30-40 raw images before the buffer slows the camera down. I like that there are only 3 function buttons on the camera. This streamlines the look of the camera and makes it feel more like a Leica experience. Yes some wish that Leica had gone to a 36MP sensor. I'm happy with 24MP. More slows more computer down and 24MP is just fine for prints up to 24 x 36. The M10 is so much lighter than the M(240) that when I carry one on each shoulder I subconsciously know which side is which, the M10 feels that much lighter. And after a long day that adds up. But enough of the camera functions, how about the results. the M10 files are easy to work with. As with all of the Leica digitals, don't overexpose. Leica files seem to like a little under-exposure. I have been printing my M10 files on my new Epson P800 and I must saw I am impressed. The prints are sharp with saturated colors.
Now for the question that previous Leica owners want answered. Should you update to the M10. For M9 owners I say it is an easy choice, yes. The M10 CMOS sensor is a big improvement over the M9 CCD sensor. For M(240) owners it is a tough choice. The M(240) is still a fantastic camera. Only you can make that call. For anyone wanting to jump on the Leica bandwagon, I say go for the M10 and a 35mm or 50mm summicron. You cant go wrong with that combination.
Recently I was asked what my first digital camera was. It was the Kodak DCS 200. I started using this camera back in 1994. This was really the bleeding edge of photography technology at the time. It was made by Kodak but was based on a film body, the NIKON 8008S. At the time my main body was a Nikon F4 and I had a N8008s as a backup.
The Kodak DCS 200 images were a massive 1.54MP each. Not much by todays standards but it was incredible back in the mid 90's. The Nikon body and the Kodak back were 2 completely separate pieces. The body could be easily separated from the back and a standard film back could be attached and the camera could shoot film again. Also this is before there were LCD’s on the back to check focus and exposure. It was common to return from a shoot and see my images come up on the screen and they would be purple or black because of the buggy software. Images that were missing because of a hardware error was also a common problem. A Kodak dye sublimation printer was hooked up to my Mac workstation for producing 8 x 10 prints. The prints were limited by the low resolution of the camera but they got the job done.
I took to digital like a fish to water. I had a great deal of experience at custom printing color and B&W negatives. I am still comfortable in total darkness, kinda miss the old days. As much as I miss the nostalgia of film once you got a taste of digital it was obvious the film workflow was limited. With analog imaging making a comeback I have jumped on the bandwagon and I occasionally shoot film and have been shooting a lot of polaroid.
If you have less then ten years in photography you might have trouble realizing just how the early days of digital were so earth shattering. Being able to have a print just a few minutes after a shoot was unbelievable. But I must say the equipment was very unreliable. Batteries never seemed to last as long as advertised. One of my cameras the battery would occasionally go from full to dead in seconds. The hard drives in the cameras always seemed to have bad blocks of data that ruined the images.
If you have a digital camera that is over 10 years old I say get it out and shoot a few images with it and compare it to your latest camera. We have come a long way in a short period of time.
I have had a life long fascination with the Polaroid image. I have taken tens of thousands of Polaroid images. From I.D. images to work prints for drawings, proofs for view cameras, vacations, artistic images, and for all of the times that an image was needed at the moment before digital.
Since instant photography seems to be making a comeback this book has excellent timing. It is called The Polaroid Project. There are lots of examples of the great work that has been done with Polaroid film over the years. Seeing the mock-ups of pre-production cameras is fascinating. It is great to see the rebirth of Polaroid from the Impossible Project to the present day Polaroid Original. This is definitely one the better books on the history of photography and I highly recommend purchasing this throughly researched and enjoyable book.
The image above is not supposed to work. There is no strong point of interest. The gray scale only extends to about a middle grey. The blacks lack detail. No highlights. No specular highlights.
Photography has has changed so much since I started in the 70’s. Strong vibrant colors were expected. Black and white images were expected to have a tonal range from deep black to whites that showed detail. I attended a photography program and a well exposed negative was the most important part of the image making process. From there a final print with a wide tonal range was exhibited. Composition was rigidly taught. But somewhere clinical photography started to fade away in my personal work.
My image above has lots of mood. Leading lines are there for composition but they don’t lead to a defined subject. The light gap at the end of the walkway is a compositional element that is indifferent. The side rails are void of detail but you look for detail anyway. The wet planks that are walked on are not well defined, almost having an ethereal presence to them. Notice the faint grey band where the horizon should be giving depth to the image. The two dark circles at the right edge of the shoreline. What are they? Notice the “V” that extends into the shoreline and how it mirrors the walkway. No ripples in the water enhance the feeling of solitude. Without ever being there you know that there was complete silence when the image was made. The shutter being activated was the only sound.
Look at some of your recent images. How do they “feel”. Did you have a purpose for the image. What are you trying to say. So much imagery in the world that has nothing to say. Look deeper into yourself. Express what is inside.