Even though this lens is not known for low light photography, I’ve been using it frequently inside the house.
Technical: 1/30 sec | f/3.4 | ISO 640.
↑Leica M9 (CCD Lives! – Prosophos Open Letter to Leica) + Leica 21mm Super-Elmar ASPH.
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.
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.
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.
(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:
Here is an image from last year (2015), taken with the Leica M9 + Leica 35mm Summilux ASPH FLE @ f/4:
… And here are the magnified views.
First, the D810 + Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art @ f/4 (magnified):
Next, the Leica M9 + Leica 35mm Summilux ASPH FLE @ f/4 (magnified):
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.
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).
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).
Now here are the central crops (looking at the individuals in sharpest focus from each image)…
Leica M240 + Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH (100%):
Nikon D810 + Sigma 50mm ART (100%):
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.
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.
↑Leica M8 (CCD Lives! – Prosophos Open Letter to Leica) + Leica 75mm Summarit f/2.5.
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):
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.