Category Archives: Teaching point

Burning a hole.

Prosophos - Burning a Shutter Curtain Hole

Yes, I did it.

I managed to burn a hole in my M3 shutter curtain.

After all of these years… this is a first.  I had read about it but never really worried about it.

As far as I can tell, it was caused by not having the lens cap on while I was outside in intense sunlight (at the Blue Jays game).  My uncapped lens likely focused the rays of light onto a small area of the shutter cloth and — voila! — a hole was created.

This is what the hole was doing to all of my film images:

(iPhone shot of a scanned image on my computer screen)

Prosophos - Shutter Hole

Fortunately the curtain was repaired/patched courtesy of Alex at Setadel Studios (he had my camera back to me within 24 hrs — amazing service).

Now I have to reconsider my w(hole) modus operandi for shooting.  I have been using my lenses with protective hoods and filters but no lens caps.



Sometimes, you just have to hang on.



Technical:  1/30 sec.

Technical #2:  My Leica M3 is broken (curtain issue).  I thought the (now sold) 50/2 Jahre was flaring badly, but the same bright spot I was seeing in its images appears in the centre of most of my images with 35 Summicron ASPH.  Bummer!  Thank goodness I took two quick images of this scene and this (second) image was okay.  Thank you also to my friend Mark (If Time Stood Still) for help with the diagnosis.

Undisclosed Lens #3 (test shot on digital).

If you have been following along, my last few posts contain photographs created with Undisclosed Lens #3.

So far, I’ve only shot with it on film.

I decided to examine central sharpness, wide open, on the Leica M9.

Here is the original test shot:

Undisclosed Lens #3 (test shot)

And here is the central crop of the above image, at 100%:

(focus was on the “T” of the word “Teas”)

Undisclosed Lens #3 (100% crop)

Once again, I’m quite impressed with this lens.


There is fungus among us.

Mamiya RZ 110_2.8

My newly-acquired Mamiya-Sekor Z 110mm f/2.8, which was used to take these recently posted images here, here, and here, has fungus in it.

A lot of fungus.

It was described as “mint” by the seller in Japan.

To his credit, he has sent me a replacement lens.  It’s not quite as nice cosmetically, but the glass is clean (other than dust, which all of these Mamiya RZ lenses seem to attract in great quantity).

Yet, I wonder if I should keep and pay for the eukaryotic-exotic first lens?

It seems to perform spectacularly.

Myco-graphy anyone?


Anatomy of Last Night’s Game.

This series was photographed last night with my undisclosed lens.

(click to see LARGE)

Anatomy of Last Night's Game

Each image was created with the lens wide open.

For those interested in seeing the details this lens captures at maximum aperture, here is a 100% crop of the third image:

(focus is on his eyelashes)

Anatomy of Last Night's Game (100% crop)

Yes, this lens costs less than a Leica lens hood.  It costs less than an M9 battery.  Amazing really.

I’m working my way down the list of donators to the site and revealing the identity of my undisclosed lens.

Thanks again to those who donated.


Donate to this site (button)

A pivotal moment.

This was photographed tonight.

It’s another colour image taken with my undisclosed lens (well, eight of you now know which lens I’m using — I’m going down the list of people who donated to my site and revealing its identity as my personal thank you).

As you can see, the rendering — even wide open — is impressive.


A pivotal moment



She’s emerging from the darkness of a 6 day fever.

And with this post, I’m emerging from radio silence.  Thank you again to all who donated to the site.

As you know, I’m going down the list of donators each day and divulging the identity of my mystery lens, which can currently be purchased for less than a Leica lens hood.

This is the first colour shot I’ve created with the undisclosed lens.  I see impressive colour rendition and pulling of shadow detail, but it also helps to have the mighty M9 sensor capturing those precious photons.

On a related note, I’d like to thank the great Mr. Youxin Ye for repairing my undisclosed lens in record time and making sure the aperture and focus rings are working smoothly.  He also removed a considerable amount of dust from within the lens barrel.  Thank you Youxin!



New CCD sensor from Leica?

M9 Sensor - Prosophos.

Wow, this is amazing — I have to give Leica full credit for following through on this.

For those who haven’t seen the announcement, here is the link:

Latest information on the CCD sensors of the Leica M9 / M9-P / M Monochrom and M-E camera models.

CCD sensor lovers, rejoice!


Related:  An Open Letter to Leica


With regards to post-processing the Leica M Monochrom files:  Less is More.



Baseball, painterly

A few observations:

  • The mesh-work of shadows breaking up the light creates the illusion of movement where there is stillness.
  • There are elements of a formal portrait here but this is clearly a candid moment.
  • I love capturing moments like this.


Baseball, painterly

Homage to HCB.

I was thinking of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s famous shot when I took this.

(his image is more interesting — for many reasons)

On a related note, I’ve gone back and edited all my soccer-related images and added the category The Beautiful Game to each one, so that I no longer have to type “The Beautiful Game” in the title or in the post.


The beautiful game - homage to HCB

The Leica Q: Why didn’t Sony make it first?

Leica Q - Prosophos

Why didn’t Sony take the RX1/R and turn it into the Leica Q before Leica did?  Sony was so close the first time…

Sony is a behemoth with deep resources and Leica is a tiny company with relatively limited resources, yet Leica out-Sony-ied Sony.

I keep wondering: Why?

(Nikon and Canon haven’t shown an interest in this class of camera — yet.  So forget them, as they seem to be sleeping.)

Either way, I’m glad Leica pulled this off first because Sony would have messed up the haptics.

On a related note, every decade people are willing to write Leica off, but Leica manages to re-invent itself.  As I stated in point #20 of My Photography Truths:

Never bet against Leica.


Restraint, people.

It’s our May holiday weekend here in Canada and I’ve had some time to relax.

I’ve spent part of the day looking at various fora, blogs, photo-sharing sites, etc. and have seen some genuinely nice images.

To my dismay however, I’ve also seen a lot of something else:  the over-processed-HDR look.

Apparently, tone-mapping is alive and well.

At this point, I feel compelled to link back to an article I wrote several years ago:

Over-processed, not.

Please read it, or pass it along to a friend who may need help.  Consider it an act of kindness.  Or tough love.

In the meantime, if you want to remind yourself of what a proper photograph should look like, have a look at some film images.

Here are a couple of sites I often visit because the photographers there are still shooting film (in addition to digital):

If Time Stood Still

Bijan Sabet

You won’t find anything flashy there, but you will find some very fine photographs.


The M240 hurt Leica.

The news today that Leica has reduced its lens prices by 12% should come as no surprise.  Leica has been quietly discounting new lenses and cameras and selling them as “demos” for many months, and those same lenses and cameras have been languishing on dealers’ shelves for at least as long.

Why has Leica, who had trouble meeting demand for its products several years ago, experienced this reversal of fortune? 

Simply put, the M240 did not ignite the passion of photographers (or at least camera purchasers) and it didn’t become the blockbuster Leica had hoped.  And since camera sales drive lens sales, the lenses are now – figuratively and literally – collecting dust.

People who follow this blog know of my passion for the M9 and of my distaste for the M240 (see my Open Letter to Leica).  The reasons for this have been well documented, so I won’t rehash them here.

Even if you put my personal bias aside, the M240 was made obsolete by other CMOS-based cameras (I’m thinking specifically about Sony’s cameras) the moment it hit the streets.  The M9 at least offered something different, while remaining true to the Leica ethos.

Whatever Leica does with the next M, I would humbly suggest that they focus on the following:

  1. superior image quality
  2. reliability
  3. a less-is-more interface
  4. rangefinder accuracy and precision
  5. weight and size reduction.

Until then, I’m holding on to my M9P and M9 Monochrom*.


*Incidentally, my good friend Alex here in Toronto (who sells more Leica gear than anyone else in Canada) tells me that he has trouble selling new or used M240s, while used M9s fly off his shelves, despite the very well known sensor corrosion issue.

Boy of Summer (First Hit Ever).

This was photographed tonight.

It’s his first game…

2nd time at bat, and…

very first hit…



Boy of Summer (First Hit Ever)

Technical:  Shot through a chain-link fence @ f/1.4 with focus on his near eye.  ISO 640.  1/3000.


Test Image: Leica 35mm Summicron, Version 1 (8 Element).

Another window light portrait, in front of my “famous” window.


Test Image Leica 35mm Summicron 8 element

…this time I offer a twist on an old theme:  this image was taken with a recently acquired (and adjusted, in Japan) Leica 35mm Summicron (8 element) lens, otherwise known as Version 1 of the legendary 35mm Summicron.  My lens was made in Germany in the early 60s.  It’s an example of the relatively less common screw mount (LTM) version, but mine was subsequently converted to M mount by Leica.

The lens arrived today.  I mounted it on my Leica M9P and fired off the above “test” shot, wide open at f/2.

Here’s what the lens looks like:

Prosophos 8 Elements

It’s tiny, light, and another jewel in the Leica crown.


Can’t see the forest for the trees.

Definition:  An expression used of someone who is too concerned about the details to see the “big picture”.

Recent pixel-peeping-type comments pertaining to my film images (by a minority of individuals), and a text from a friend who asserted that the output from his M Monochrom is superior to the output out of a Rolleiflex, prompted me to remind people of the above expression.

And I leave you with one question:  Why would you pixel-peep a film photograph?

(we don’t do that for a painting, even though an iPhone can “out-resolve” it)


Love, Spilling.

Technical:  f/4.5, 1/30 sec.


Love, Spilling


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