Category Archives: Teaching point


The light was really, really bad… and yet I really like the light in this image.

This underscores the fact that you never truly know how the image will look until you press the shutter.  In thinking about this, I’m reminded of that famous Garry Winogrand quote:  “I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed.



Leica M9 (CCD Lives!Prosophos Open Letter to Leica) + Leica 35mm Summilux ASPH FLE.


A study in composition — there’s a lot going on in this frame!

This is probably one of the most successful (spontaneous) compositions I’ve had this year.  I wish I’d shot it at f/8, so more detail could be appreciated in the background, but often the background is full of distractions therefore I routinely photograph at wider apertures to relegate the clutter into a blur (incidentally, this photograph was shot at f/4.5. which is wide-ish for a telephoto lens).

On a related note, there are few vocal individuals on camera forums these days that routinely decry shallow-depth-of-field-photography and label it a fad.

I disagree:  the technique has been employed extensively from the dawn of photography and there are too many background distractions in modern-day environments to not use it.



↑Nikon D810 + Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR AF-S.

Totally Safe.

…except he was called out😦

At least I had this photo to show him afterwards.

On another note, this is the first image taken with the newly acquired Nikon 70-200mm f/4G.


Totally Safe

↑Nikon D810 + Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR AF-S (@ 145mm).


Courtesy of De Mello Palheta.

The best latte I’ve had anywhere.



Leica M9 (CCD Lives!Prosophos Open Letter to Leica) + Leica 35mm Summilux ASPH FLE.

My Camera of the Year for 2016.

Prosophos - Leica M9 Black

My 35mm digital camera of the year for 2016 is:

Leica M9/M-E


After experimenting with the Nikon D810 (and other cameras) for more than seven months, I continue to prefer the Leica M9/M-E for image quality, at base ISO.

It is clear to me that the D810 has the better performing sensor by all objective metrics and has more malleable files, but somehow the M9 images look better.

(The runner up camera is once again the Leica M8.)

But, am I being premature with my selection?  What will the second half of 2016 bring?

Leica may finally improve on the disappointing M240 with the release of a new M in the fall, but realistically most of us won’t be able to get a hold of it until 2017.

Either way, don’t expect it to be a CCD camera like many of us have asked for in My Open a Letter to Leica.

I’ll be interested in it anyway, if the image quality is better than the M240.


Previous Camera of the Year Winners:


2015: No camera selected (it should have been the M9/M-E).

2014: Leica M9/M-E

2013: Leica M9/M-E

2012: Leica M9/M-E

2011: Leica M9

2010: Leica M9

2009: Leica M9

2008: Leica M8

2007: Leica M8

2006: Leica M8


The dividing line (and timing) of an out.

On a technical note, whereas I would have machine-gun-photographed with the D810 at 5 FPS to try to get this shot (and would have had a 50-50 chance), I was able to get the “decisive moment” with the M8 on a single click of the shutter.



Leica M8 (CCD Lives!Prosophos Open Letter to Leica) + Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH.

Nikon D810 vs. Leica M9 (in “real life” use).

(Not a scientific comparison between images taken at two different times under different conditions — but this reflects “actual use” conditions for me.)

(See related:  Nikon D810 vs. Leica M240 in “real life” use.)

I photographed my kids’ school Fun Fair yesterday.

Here is an image from the event, taken with the D810 + Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art @ f/4:

Fun Fair 2016

Here is an image from last year (2015), taken with the Leica M9 + Leica 35mm Summilux ASPH FLE @ f/4:

Fun Fair 2015

And here are the magnified views.

First, the D810 + Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art @ f/4 (magnified):

Fun Fair 2016 (magnification)

Next, the Leica M9 + Leica 35mm Summilux ASPH FLE @ f/4 (magnified):

Fun Fair 2015 (mangification)

My conclusions:

The D810 + Sigma 35 Art made it easier to photograph the event, the M9 + Leica 35 FLE produced more pleasing image quality (in “actual use” conditions).

In all fairness to the D810 + Sigma 35 Art, when the conditions are right and the focus is nailed, this combination leaves very little to be desired: Nikon D810 + Sigma 35 Art in optimal conditions.


Nikon D810 vs. Leica M240 (in “real life” use).

This is a comparison I did tonight for my own purposes.  I’ve decided to share it with you.

This reflects my “real life” use of these camera/lens combinations, but does not represent a scientific analysis.

I repeat, this is NOT scientific.

Here are two images from the kids’ school Lip Synch competition.

The first was taken in 2015 with the Leica M240 + Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH:

(f/2.8 | 1/250 | ISO 1600).

Prosophos Leica M240 and Leica 50

The second was taken in 2016 with the Nikon D810 + Sigma 50mm ART (I was sitting a little further back):

(f/2.8 | 1/250 | ISO 1000).

Prosophos Nikon D810 and Sigma 50

Now here are the central crops (looking at the individuals in sharpest focus from each image)…

Leica M240 + Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH (100%):

Prosophos Leica M240 and Leica 50 (crop)

Nikon D810 + Sigma 50mm ART (100%):

Prosophos Nikon D810 and Sigma 50 (crop)

The results above are consistent with other images I’ve examined.

The variables that differ between these two images are numerous.  The only thing they have in common is that they represent real-life output from my use of these camera/lenses.

What do YOU think of the results?





I love the placement of the elements here… including the stray helmet to the right.

On another note, I’m really digging the Nikon 300mm f/4 E PF ED VR (a lens whose name is longer than its focal length!).

It’s slightly larger than my Sigma 50/1.4 ART, but weighs less (755 g for the Nikon, 815 g for the Sigma), making it relatively easy to carry around.

Surprisingly, the 300mm focal length has proven to be very versatile.



↑Nikon D810 + Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR.

Test Shots: Leica M8 and 75mm Summarit.

I welcomed the return of an old friend recently:  the Leica M8.  It was the gateway camera for me into the world of rangefinders, almost 10 years ago.

Today, I welcomed another old friend, the Leica 75 Summarit f/2.5.  Seeing as the entire Summarit line of lenses have been updated recently, there are currently many great deals to be had on the “old” versions.  As it happens, the 75/2.5 is one of my all-time favourite Leica lenses (see my brief 75mm Summarit review here).

As soon as the 75/2.5 arrived this afternoon, I stepped outside (but Only Within 200 feet of My House™) to shoot some quick test shots while the light was still good.

It’s nice to see that my two friends still play nicely together.


Prosophos - M8 and 75 Summarit (1)

Prosophos - M8 and 75 Summarit (2)

Prosophos - M8 and 75 Summarit (3)

Leica M8 (CCD Lives!Prosophos Open Letter to Leica) + Leica 75mm Summarit f/2.5.

Sigma 35mm Art @ f/1.4 on the Nikon D810 (very, very short review).

Ever since I switched over to the Nikon D810 and started using Sigma Art lenses, I’ve received a few questions asking me how well the Sigmas perform on the high-resolution D810.

Well let me put it this way: the internet got it right… these lenses are exceptional.

The Art lenses are the only lenses I’ve tried on the D810 that gave me the kind of performance I’d gotten used to with my Leica gear.  In fact, I’d venture to say I probably would have already abandoned the D810 and missed out on what the camera sensor is truly capable of, if it wasn’t for the Sigma lenses.

As a simple demonstration, I’m posting a crop from yesterday’s image Up in order to illustrate the sort of central sharpness you can expect when using the 35 Art @ f/1.4 (focus is on the near eye):


Up (central magnification - Nikon D810 and Sigma 35mm ART at 1.4)

Sharpness, of course, is only one facet of lens performance, but I also appreciate how this lens has very little distortion and how beautifully it handles light, colour, and out-of-focus rendering.  Last, but not least, I also appreciate how Sigma has consciously avoided adorning the exterior with tacky emblems: it comes wrapped in a wonderfully nondescript dark body with minimal markings:

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART - Prosophos



H’s Hockey Card.

This image is from this morning’s game.

(I decided to turn it into a “hockey card” for my daughter.)

On a technical note, it was nice having a 300mm lens today.  Telephoto reach was one thing I’ve missed while using my rangefinder cameras all of these years.  As my children have gotten bigger, so have the playing venues… hence the need.

On another note, I’ve gone from begrudgingly accepting my Nikon D810 to deeply appreciating it.  I can’t say that I’m passionate about it (yet) like I am with my Leica M3 (or, previously, my M9), but I am shocked to state that I actually enjoy photographing with it.  I’ll be damned.  It’s interesting how the incremental improvements over the D800 (the quiet shutter being one of the obvious changes) have transformed the user experience.  Good work Nikon.

Also, I’ll have to comment more on the Nikon 300/4 lens (used for this image) on a future post.  I’ll say this much now though:  I’m very pleased with it.


H's Hockey Card


There’s something about the way the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART renders… photos from it just sparkle, for lack of a better word.

At this point, I think I may even prefer it over the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART, but I haven’t shot enough with either to draw any definite conclusions (though the fact that I might be favouring a 35 over a 50 is saying something, given I’ve traditionally been a 50 shooter).

Either way, both of these Sigma ART lenses are phenomenal.  I can’t wait until springtime to get outside in good light and really play with them.



The Brushing.

A rare and very welcomed burst of light in February (this was photographed earlier today).

(Technical:  The white paper my daughter was writing on accidentally but conveniently served as a reflector.)


The Brushing

Test Shot Portraits #1 and #2.

Test shot portraits: the first in harsh artificial light last night; the second in natural light earlier today.

The focus is where I wanted it in the first, but I can’t say that about the second image (it is slightly front-focused).  Perhaps I’m out of practice, perhaps my eyesight is starting to fail me, perhaps the rangefinder (or lens) is off.

I have no idea, because this is film.

And that’s the beauty of it.


Kanto Leica M3 50mm Summilux Black Chrome Test Shot 1 Prosophos

Kanto Leica M3 50mm Summilux Black Chrome Test Shot 2 Prosophos

Close Connection.

There’s another close connection going on here…

I’ve attached a Rolleinar 2 close-up lens kit to the Minolta Autocord to get this shot.

This is the first test image with the combination.  The buttery-smooth bokeh of the Rokkor f/3.5 is impressive, given the concomitant sharpness in the in-focus areas.  It’s one of the reasons I sought out the Autocord in the first place.  It’s rare to find such sharp-but-smooth rendering — often you only get to have one of these attributes in a lens.  The only other lenses I know of that are as well balanced are the Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH and the Mamiya RZ 110/2.8.


Close Connection


The first image from my Minolta Autocord CDS III / 75mm Rokkor.

f/3.5 | 1/125 sec | Kodak Tri-X 400



The return of the Minolta Autocord TLR.

Minolta Autocord Prosophos (crop)

That’s my actual Autocord ↑

As many of you know, I recently purchased a Minolta Autocord.

Unfortunately, I quickly realized (well, not so quickly… I ruined two rolls of film in realizing) that the shutter was not releasing.  I had a dead camera.  This despite the fact that it had been advertised as “fully repaired and fully functioning” by the seller in Japan (for the record, I’ve dealt with many Japanese dealers over the years, and have always found them to be reliable and honest, so this experience was an exception).

After getting over the initial disappointment , I started searching on the ‘net for someone who could fix it.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long to find the name of a highly recommended serviceman:  Karl Bryan.

I contacted Mr. Bryan, and he responded immediately; after several email exchanges he confirmed that it needed to be sent in.

So off it went and now I’m happy to report that my camera is back.

In the interest of sharing, here is the itemized list of inspections/adjustments/repairs performed, as communicated to me by Karl:

“Hi Peter,

I recvd your camera today and have performed the following services on it:

  • checked shutter, made/installed cocking lever pin
  • checked flash
  • checked film advance
  • checked frame counter
  • cleaned/lubricated focus helix
  • reset focus of taking and viewing lens
  • cleaned outer surfaces of lens groups
  • cleaned mirror/ground glass/Fresnel lens
  • installed Fresnel lens correctly
  • straightened waist level finder so magnifier pops up properly
  • replaced aperture/shutter viewing window
  • lubricated film rollers and film advance drive gear
  • tightened pressure plate screws
  • replaced shutter control lever
  • installed missing grub screw on focus lever
  • installed missing grub screw on meter on/off switch
  • replaced waist level finder lift button
  • installed battery and battery adapter in battery housing


…I have included a CD of Autocord information in the box with your camera.

The camera shutter had been CLA’d, but the camera tech forgot to put lacquer on the shutter cocking lever pin. Without the lacquer the pin will fall out. I made a new pin and installed it. I lacquered the pin and the 2 aperture control plate screws (camera tech also forgot to lacquer the screws). It was a real pleasure to work on your camera, a very clean camera. As recvd the focus was very very stiff (temp was 1 C) and infinity focus was when the focus lever was set to 50’ (camera tech probably didn’t have an autocollimator for setting focus). I cleaned/lubricated the focus helix and then I reset the focus, a very sharp lens. I also straightened the waist level finder so that it would open smoothly and the magnifier would not droop (can’t focus if the magnifier isn’t parallel to the ground glass). I also replaced the damaged rear waist level finder lifting button and the badly damaged aperture/shutter viewing window. You will find the old parts in the upper film spool area of the camera.

I tested your meter, the CDS meter works and appears to be accurate. To use the meter…”


As you can see, Karl took care of everything an now my Autocord has been restored to its former glory.

It is operating beautifully.

Suffice it to say, if any of you reading this are interested in having a Minolta Autocord skillfully serviced, do not hesitate to contact Karl (he is located in the USA and can be found easily via an internet search — or you can contact me and I’ll forward you his email) and you will be taken care of by a true gentleman.*

Thank you Karl!


*NOTE:  As always, the recommendations I make on my site are based on my experiences as a paying customer.  I am not affiliated with, nor do I earn any money (advertising or otherwise) from any third party photography-related products, services, or website links.