Category Archives: Teaching point

What do these two photos have in common?

These two photos have something in common.

What is it?

(Whoever guesses correctly will have all the glory of getting full credit on this blog, for as long as I pay my annual fees to WordPress.)

—Peter.

The Graduates (Film Simulations Applied).

Top Panel: As previously posted.

Bottom Panel: Film Simulations Applied.

EDIT:  I just replaced the bottom panel with the updated versions (you may have to refresh your browser to see the changes).  The differences are now more subtle, but the bottom panel definitely retains a more film-like appearance.

—Peter.

The Graduates.

I decided to create this composite image using photos I’ve taken over the past year.

As you can see, the first (from last year) was created with the Nikon D850 + 105mm f/1.4.  The other two (from this year) were created with the Fuji GFX 50R + 110mm f/2.

I share the above information purely for your interest and not for the purpose of making comparisons, as there are simply too many variables in effect in each image (for example, subject’s natural skin tone, time of day, natural vs. artificial vs. mixed lighting, etc.).

Suffice it to say, both systems produce wonderful image quality, though I would give the edge to Fuji  (you cannot, however, discern that from the small-sized images I’ve posted).

With respect to weight, the Fuji also has a slight advantage:

  • Nikon D850 (1, 055 g) + 105/1.4 (985 g) = 2, 040 g.
  • Fuji GFX 50R (775 g) + 110/2 (1010 g) = 1, 785 g.

However, the Nikon is without a doubt the more versatile system.

—Peter.

The Konica Hexanon 60mm 1.2.

A couple of years ago, I updated my review of the Konica Hexanon 60mm 1.2 by deleting the entire discussion and replacing it with the statement:

“I no longer recommend this lens.”

Do you know why I did that?  Because:

“I no longer recommend this lens.”

Since then, I’ve had a handful of people (including one in the comments section of what remains of the “review”) write to ask me whether I did this to drop the price of the 60/1.2, so that I could buy it again.

Well… no.  That would be unethical.

Part of the reason for the downgrade was the price-to-performance ratio had become too great, and part of it had to do with a change in my preferences.  Simply put, I am no longer interested in lenses that impart too much of a specific “look” to a photograph.

So for those individuals who paid an insane amount of money to own one, I’m sorry that its price has dropped, though I really don’t think I had anything to do with it.

—Peter.

[Guest Post] Aaron C Greenman and the Mamiya 6.

Aaron writes:

“Peter, as you know I have been a Leica M shooter for most of the past 15 years….. until the past three years, when I have been wrestling with the (as of now somewhat false) promise of portable mirrorless digital (the Hasselblad X1D). Back and forth, it has been a struggle to decide between the wonderful image quality and color fidelity of the Hasselblad with the obvious handling, fluidity and OVF advantages of the Leica
Anyway, I have neither now, as I await an X2D equivalent, and I’ve found and am using what I pray every night for exactly in digital – the Mamiya 6, along with its 75mm and 50mm lenses (approx. 50mm and 28mm equivalent).
For any Leica M enthusiast, the Mamiya 6 (or 7, if you want to shoot 6×7), is a wonderfully familiar experience: a big nice optical coupled rangefinder, compact design for its 6×6 image size, a collapsible lens mount, and quality, lightweight lenses with sharp and characterful rendering. I have also always wanted to shoot square natively, and it is a simple joy in a square, uncluttered viewfinder – never having to turn the camera takes one more variable out of the composition equation. 
The accompanying photo was taken with the 6, the 50mm and Ektar 100 on a recent trip in United Arab Emirates, and shows the Mamiya excels in the most key area – an instantaneous shutter that allows its owner to precisely capture the moment. 
All in all, it is an experience of pure photographic bliss…… just be mindful of the limits of 12 shots per roll! 😉”
Aaron, thank you for your thoughts, which I’m sure will be helpful to photographers out there contemplating getting the Mamiya 6.  As an aside, I never thought I’d see you shooting film, and it’s nice to see you indulge in some colour photography!  Keep up the great work.
For my part, I have really wanted to get back to film (and almost did so recently) but the constant announcements of film stock discontinuations and ever-tightening shipping restrictions on chemicals for developing have made me hesitate to (re-)commit.  It’s images like this, however, and what I see over at Mark’s site that keep the idea of film photography alive for me.
Lastly, regarding your comment…
“…it has been a struggle to decide between the wonderful image quality and color fidelity of the Hasselblad with the obvious handling, fluidity and OVF advantages of the Leica.”
…much like you, my ideal camera would be designed like a Leica M with a proper (OVF) rangefinder, but would contain a medium format sensor, in a body no larger than a Mamiya 6 (or Hasselblad X1D).
Leica, if you’re interested, we can help you do it!
(one can hope…)
—Peter.

The Panasonic S1.

I just got around to reading Steve Huff’s review of the Panasonic S1, and I must say that two things really, really impressed me:

  1. The colour reproduction at high ISO.
  2. The dynamic range.

Generally speaking, the sample images have a special look – I can immediately tell that there is something different (in a good way) going on there.

I am not interested in the camera per se (because I prefer rangefinders), but I am interested in working with sensors like this.

—Peter.

 

Nikon: “We cannot beat the optical viewfinder”.

Recently, dpreview interviewed three top-level Nikon executives, and one of them said:

“In terms of hardware, it is likely that mirrorless will catch up with DSLR.  But one thing that is a challenge is the time lag of electronic viewfinders. Even though we have a great mirrorless [solution], we cannot beat the optical viewfinder.”

—Nikon (March, 2019).

It’s refreshing to see someone from a major camera manufacturer speak the truth.

On the other hand, many camera reviewers have erroneously made claims over the last few years that EVFs are now just as good (or almost as good) as optical viewfinders.

Although there’s no doubt that EVFs will continue to improve, I’m sticking with OVF-equipped cameras (for now) so that I can continue to see the world clearly and in real-time.

—Peter.

Boy, Portrait.

With a lens like the 7Artisans 50mm 1.1, I’m seriously asking myself whether I should keep the Leica 50 Summilux ASPH.

Technical:

  • Lighting:  Westcott Ice Light.
  • Processing:  My Leica M10 presets for Lightroom (purchase here).

—Peter.

Leica M10 + 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1.

 

Truck-sized.

This Fujifilm GFX 50R test shot #2 is consequent to an initial discussion here and subsequent discussion here.

The truck was moving when I photographed it.

The full-res file leaps off the screen.  You can get a sense of that effect here, even at this (much smaller) size.

—Peter.

Fujifilm GFX 50R + Fujifilm 63mm f/2.8 R WR.

The Leica M11.

The Leica M11 will have >40 MP.

That will really reveal focus errors when using fast lenses wide open.  Technique will therefore matter more than ever.

It would be nice if the new sensor achieves greater dynamic range and colour accuracy (which admittedly is already quite good with what we have).

Leica, please just keep the optical viewfinder (that’s a personal request).

—Peter.

Coffee Break.

This image is in follow-up to the discussion here.

—Peter.

Fujifilm GFX 50R + Fujifilm 63mm f/2.8 R WR.

7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 (cropped image).

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about wide open performance of the The 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 (Leica M mount), since revealing that it is my Undisclosed Lens #7.

So, I thought I would show another example image, followed by a central crop.

The last time I did this was when I was comparing this lens to the Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH.  Despite making that comparison, I don’t believe there is any value in such head-to-head tests when considering this lens, because it is not an optic that one purchases for checklist attributes.  Instead, the 7Artisans 50/1.1 should be regarded much like the Leica Noctilux f.1 and the Zeiss Sonnar f/1.5 lenses, which are coveted for their artistic rendering.

Having said that, the 50/1.1 is often mistakenly labelled as “soft” when used at f/1.1.  Though it is not razor sharp wide open (and can be “glowy” at near distance — see the aforementioned comparison), it is certainly sharp enough for me.  I would, in fact, caution anyone who believes that this lens is “soft” at f/1.1 to make sure they have calibrated it correctly (or are practicing good technique).

Case in point, here is another image taken at the time of the Night Light photo I recently posted, photographed  at f/1.1:

Leica M10 + 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1.

Now, here is the magnified central portion of the frame (focus is on the eyelashes of the near eye):

I will let you decide if it is sharp enough for you and whether — in the case of an f/1.1 lens — it really matters.

—Peter.

My Leica M10 Lightroom Presets.

I recently discussed the Lightroom Presets I have been working on, and a few of you asked whether they could be purchased.

My initial response was no, for the simple reason that it is time-consuming to provide technical support for any issues that may arise.  However, I continue to receive requests and responding to each one has — ironically — consumed a good chunk of time! 🙂

So here’s what I’ve decided to do:

I will make my 3 presets available for purchase but with the understanding that:

  1. There will be no technical support (you assume the burden of installing/using these!).  I will, however, say this much about their intended use: the “Film Base” preset is meant for photos that are exposed properly or slightly over-exposed; the “Film Soft Portrait” preset is meant for photos that are slightly underexposed or, as its name suggests, for portraits; the “Skin Tones” preset reduces red/orange contamination in skin tones.
  2. The presets are not meant to yield “finished” images.  For some photos they may be sufficient, but for most they will only serve as a good starting point.  Essentially, these presets contain the settings I use when I begin post-processing my Leica M10 files.  They are not meant to emulate a specific film; I am not interested in re-inventing a look that was perfected by Kodak, Fuji, etc.  If you want the look of film, I suggest you photograph with it!  The only reason the word “film” appears in the names is because of how I’ve set the tone curve to handle light and shadows (the way most films do).

If you agree to the above, my three Leica M10 presets may be purchased for:

US $15

(total price for all 3)

Are they are worth $15?   I’ll leave it up to you to decide.  They help me save time and effort, so they are certainly valuable to me.

If you are still interested in proceeding:

Click here to purchase via PayPal.

Once payment is received, the files will be sent to you via email and you will need to import them into your copy of Lightroom.

Please note that it may take up to 24 hours for me to email you the presets.

—Peter.

 

 

 

 

The identity of Undisclosed Lens #7.

Undisclosed Lens #7 is:

The 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 (Leica M mount)

The comparison test I posted yesterday revealed something unexpected: the minimum focus distance is greater than the advertised 0.7 m (either that or my Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH focuses closer than 0.7 m, which is unlikely).  I hadn’t noticed it until I ran the head-to-head comparison and found that I couldn’t get as close with the 7Artisans as I could with the Leica.

Other than that (disappointing) surprise, I have been satisfied with the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1.  It’s an interesting lens that has polarized photographers’ opinions of it (although some have passed judgment without actually laying their hands on one).   The mini-controversy surrounding it was the main reason I wanted to post images without first identifying the lens.

Those who criticize this 7Artisans lens I think miss the point.  In my case, I bought it hoping for a dreamy look (for lack of a better phrase) that the technically more capable 50 ‘lux does not as readily provide.

Moreover, having previously owned the Leica f/1 Noctilux (a lens also known for its dreamy look), I would say that the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 compares quite favourably and it would, in fact, be my choice between the two.

—Peter.

Examples of recent images:

 

 

 

 

Test: Leica 50mm Summilux vs. Undisclosed Lens #7.

Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH vs. Undisclosed Lens #7.

(EDIT January 4, 2018 I have revealed the identify of Lens #7 here.)

  • Both lenses mounted on a Leica M10
  • @ f/1.4
  • @ minimum 0.7 m focus distance (nonetheless, notice the field of view difference)
  • Identical default sharpening settings in Lightroom
  • No post-processing (nonetheless, notice colour differences)

 

Entire scene (please click on image to enlarge):

100% centre crop (please click on image to enlarge):

Which one is “superior”?:

Clearly the Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH.

Will I still continue to use Undisclosed Lens #7?:

Yes.  I value this lens for its “flaws”.

—Peter.

Film Photographers Rejoice! New Plustek OpticFilm 120 Pro Film Scanner.

I’m sure a few of you already know this, but for those of you who don’t, Plustek is introducing an updated version of its OpticFilm 120 film scanner.  The new scanner is called the Plustek OpticFilm 120 Pro.

I asked for an improved version of the 120 a year-and-a-half ago and it looks like Plustek has come through.

Having owned several Plustek dedicated film scanners, I can say that I have been satisfied with their products (and consider them superior to flatbed scanners) but would of course welcome improvements in ease of use, precision, speed, resolution, and dynamic range.

Therefore, I am really looking forward to seeing this new scanner in action.

—Peter.

 

Praying for time.

Test Shot #4, a candid portrait, created with Undisclosed Lens #7.

The title is borrowed from George Michael’s song.

Maybe we should all be praying for time.

—Peter.

Leica M10 + Undisclosed Lens #7.

Oh the irony.

Today I finally figured out how to properly process my Leica M10 files (the irony is that last weekend I announced the end of this blog).

After months of experimentation, I created a custom preset in Lightroom that strikes a nice balance between punching up the contrast and colour, enhancing skin tones, and preserving detail.  The overall effect is subtle, which is what I want.

Most of the commercial presets I’ve tried result in cartoonish effects (specifically, with respect to colour shifts and detail obliteration) that are painted over with digital “grain”, so I’ve avoided using them.

Here is an example of my preset in action:

(click for a larger view)

Here is another example:

(click for a larger view)

I can’t wait to work with this (and possibly fine-tune it some more).

By the way, I want to thank all of you who took the time to write to me, both on this site and via email, with words of encouragement.  I am very grateful for your kindness.

—Peter.