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.
↑ Leica M10 + Undisclosed Lens #7.
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.
Last week I questioned whether the production run of the Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH Matte Black Chrome lens was limited to only 500 units, given the continued availability of this lens (brand new) several years after its introduction.
George, one of the participants in that discussion, wrote to me today with some follow-up commentary I thought was worth sharing (with his permission):
Peter, here is what I found out through Steve Huff’s and Thorsten Overgaard’s sites and the Leica Store in SoHo—all of which is very confusing. I sent this post to Steve Huff for comment thinking that he might have some insights and have been waiting. But I haven’t heard from Steve, so I thought I would post it on your site, and if I hear from Steve, I will let you know.
In January, 2016 Ken Hansen sent Steve Huff the LHSA black chrome limited special edition 50 mm Lux lens, of which there were 500, to review. On his website, Steve mentioned that he bought this same lens for $3600 in the M8 days when it was in black paint and also a LHSA limited special edition. He said he sold the lens for $8,000. Thorsten Overgaard in reviewing the 50 mm Lux black chrome limited special edition lens on his website also mentioned the earlier version black paint limited edition and its appreciation from $3600 to $8,000 as a good reason for him to hold on to his black chrome limited special edition. Clearly both Steve and Thorsten believed that only 500 of the black chrome 50 mm Lux limited edition lens were produced and that it would similarly appreciate. Interestingly enough, Steve mentioned that the only identification of the 50 mm Lux black chrome lens as a limited edition was the Leica Historical Society (LHS) name on the box. And he mentioned that Ken Hansen had a few lenses remaining, but B&H was also selling them. However, said Steve, “there were only a few available [remaining] in the world.”
Now when I bought my lens from B&H shortly after Steve received his lens (in fact, I learned about the lens on Steve’s website), there wasn’t the LHS name on my box, which makes me wonder if there were two productions of this lens at the same time—the LHSA so called limited edition as well as another production not associated with LHSA. It seems the only thing that made this lens a limited edition is its association with the Leica Historical Society of America (LHSA that amounted to simply a name on 500 boxes.
Nevertheless, B&H continues to this day to use the original LHSA limited edition advertising for all black chrome 50 mm special edition lenses for sale since essentially it is the same identical lens albeit for the LHS name on the box, which is really false advertising by B&H although you can understand why they might be confused.
Leica SoHo said that they believe that Leica produced another 500 lenses (who knows when) after I purchased my lens but will not know for sure until they see production numbers. When such production numbers will be available, they don’t know. The SoHo store has two of the lenses for sale and is not selling them as limited edition lenses. I don’t know how many B&H has, but they do state in their description that it is a limited edition of 500.
Therefore, it appears to me that the problem is with B&H and Leica. While Leica apparently continues to produce and sell this lens, B&H continues to use the advertising associated with the LHSA limited edition of the lens. It seems (again who knows for sure) that Leica has not been clear with its customers that this lens was not in fact going to be limited to 500 produced and that the only thing making it limited is the LHS name on a box. Also, it seems to have even fooled Steve Huff and Thorsten Overgaad. In fact, Overgaard doesn’t even mention LHSA but simply describes the lens as a limited edition. If this lens is truly not limited in production like the black paint edition that Steve Huff owned in his M8 days, I don’t see how it could possibly experience a similar appreciation. I didn’t purchase the lens as an investment, but I did think that I had purchased a “limited edition,” which it appears I don’t have. In fact, my box doesn’t even say Black Chrome Special Edition on it, although it has the correct serial number.
Nevertheless, here is what Leica said about this Special Edition lens, which B&H includes in its advertising: “As part of a limited edition of 500 pieces, this black-chrome finish Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH lens features a matte black exterior as well as an outer design that resembles the first edition of this lens from 1959.” Are “pieces” boxes or lenses?
Borrowing from the famous movie, Cool Hand Luke, “what we [may] have here is a [serious if not egregious] failure to communicate.”
The New York Times published an article this week, discussing the practical difficulties with long-term storage and tracking of all of the digital photos we create:
This is an issue I’m sure we’ve all thought about.
My working solution has been to store cherished photos on two back-up external drives, one that saves them in real-time and another that I use for a yearly back-up (but that remains in a safe the rest of the year). I also have many images uploaded to a cloud-based storage service.
I’m not saying this method is the best, or even good, but for me it’s the solution that best balances a sense of (false?) security with practical considerations.
In contrast to many individuals, I tend to avoid taking photos with my iPhone because, although they too are uploaded automatically to Apple’s servers (i.e. the Cloud), I don’t often make back-up copies on my external drives, so I feel less in control of them. Also, I prefer photographing with a dedicated camera anyway.
A few years ago, I read an article in The Telegraph where a top-tier Google executive predicted that all of our digital photos will likely be wiped out, if we don’t figure out a better way to preserve them.
Thinking about that further, I guess the best thing I’ve done to preserve our family’s images was to create photo books which were distributed, annually, to family members. The problem with this is that it’s very time-consuming and expensive (especially when you are making half a dozen copies of each book). Hence the last time I did it was in 2014.
Nonetheless, I guess I better start making books again… maybe next year.
Addendum: I almost forgot — the other thing I’ve done is to intermittently photograph with the anti-digital medium: film.
Okay, I’m going to go out on a limb here… again 😉
Leica claims that the production run of the 50mm Summilux ASPH Matte Black Chrome lens was limited to only 500 units.
That can’t be true.
This special edition 50 ‘Lux was first released years ago and for many months later you could still find brand new ones for sale. Since then, they have gone in-and-out-of-stock several times. New ones are (as of today) still available for purchase — some at a discount.
Limited to 500? Really?
This is the one lens I always come back to, whenever I foolishly part with it for the latest and greatest.
If ever write a full review about the Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH f/1.4, I will include the table below, which I put together using data from Lenscore.org.
If there is another 50mm lens out there that better balances performance, speed, size, build quality — and even price — I haven’t seen it.
(click the table for a larger view)
I really love seeing them like this… enjoying each other’s company.
On a completely different (and technical) note, these images were not post-processed in any way. I had nothing to add to what the M10 produced. First time I can recall that happening to me with any digital camera.
↑ Leica M10 + Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH f/1.4.
According to Leica Rumors, the Leica M10-D will be arriving shortly.
Looking back to a Guest Post by Aaron C. Greenman almost 5 years ago, it seems that many of the items on his wish list have been incorporated into the new model.
I can’t wait to see if his request for a lever that manually re-cocks the shutter has been included, as the “leaked” images seem to suggest.
No CCD sensor though, so in that sense we are probably both disappointed 🙂
It’s true: photography has always been furthered by technology.
What I mean is that, as technology has advanced (first during the film era, and now digital), photographers have increasingly been provided with the tools to more easily record/convey their vision.
However, I’m not so sure that the last 5 years have given us anything along the same vein.
Yesterday, I posted some images of the Leica M2-R I was fortunate to acquire. The photos were taken with a Leica M10 and processed in Lightroom with relative ease.
In contrast, today I set upon the boring and arduous task of testing the M2-R without — of course — the immediate feedback of digital photography. As I subsequently stood in my basement processing the film, I must admit that I had second thoughts about whether all of the hassle was worth it. It’s especially frustrating when the effort of processing and scanning is undertaken only to find out that the camera is in some way defective.
Fortunately in this case, all is good.
And as I watched the images magically appear — first on the negative as it was unspooled following its final wash, and then in more detail on my monitor as the scanner did its thing — I realized for the 1000th time why I keep coming back to film: even mundane test shots look better on this antiquated “sensor”.
The following images are not meant to be interesting. However, they are useful to me. In them, I’m verifying:
(focus is on the small word “Elect”, above the J)↓
(focus is on the number “50”)↓
(focus again is on the number “50”)↓
(focus is on the letter “G”)↓
(focus is on the poor sap )↓
(focus is on the faint word “KeepRite”)↓
(focus is on the round thermometer)↓
(focus is on the door of the house across the street)↓
↑ Leica M2-R + Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH f/1.4.
A year ago, I deleted my Prosophos Instagram account.
I can tell you why I did it, but I wasn’t planning to in this post. Suffice it to say, I think social media in general is a vex on all of us, and Instagram in particular is a vex on photography. Funny enough, I still keep a Twitter account active, but all it does is link back to posts on this site.
In order to protect my “online identity” from people up to no good, I subsequently reserved the name @PhotographsbyPeter. The Prosophos account was no longer active (once deleted, Instagram does not allow you to re-claim it). However, recently I realized that @prosophos (with the lowercase “p”) is considered a unique name, so I claimed that one too.
Both of those IG accounts have a placeholder composite photo attached to them, but that’s all they will ever have.
This is an uncropped image. Technically, it’s a difficult sort of shot to achieve focus, not just because of the motion of the cyclist and the small margin of error involved in photographing at f/1.4, but also because the cyclist is situated a little to the right of centre, away from the focus patch of the rangefinder. To deal with this, some experience and (admittedly) luck, is involved.
Incidentally, the same three issues (quick motion — especially with the subject coming towards the camera, shallow depth of field, and hitting critical focus at the periphery of the frame) can equally frustrate even the most sophisticated autofocus systems. Interestingly, in these situations I seem to have more success with rangefinders.
Now, if only the distracting car behind her wasn’t there, I might have been satisfied with this image.
↑ Leica M10 + Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH f/1.4.
Another test shot.
This was captured one minute before yesterday’s image, at the same crossing where I had briefly paused on my way home from work (I was practicing my rangefinder focusing to get it to where it was a year ago before I switched over to DSLRs).
On a technical note, one of the early conclusions I can draw from the files is that I’m liking the skin tones out of the M10.
↑ Leica M10 + Leica 50mm Summicron APO.
Are you a multi-millionaire (or billionaire) looking for the rarest of Leica lenses to round out your lens collection?
Well, right now there’s an online auction for a Leica lens with a starting bid of CAN$1,038,349.72.
That’s not a typo.
(I placed a bid but then retracted it because I realized I’m at least a million dollars short.)
↑ Nikon D850 + Nikon 105mm f/1.4 E.
I thought it would be interesting to post the same image with lens corrections (distortion and vignetting removed):
↑ Nikon D850 + Nikon 105mm f/1.4 E.
(distortion and vignetting corrected)
The vignetting at f/1.4 is very noticeable (the distortion is rather minimal, so you won’t see much of a difference in that respect); whether to correct the vignetting or not is of course a matter of preference.
Ever since I sold my Leica gear last year, I’ve had many of you write to ask me whether I’ve regretted my decision.
Even within the last 24 hours, one of my dear readers contacted me to inquire about the very same thing. The short answer is: no, I haven’t regretted it… not for a second.
On a related note, I just wrote a response to a fellow photographer, Donald Barnat, in the comments section of one of my posts (a micro-review of the Nikon 28/1.4E) that I think summarizes my current thinking on this issue.
(Incidentally, Mr. Barnat has recently written a wonderful review of the Nikon 58/1.4G — check it out if you’re in the mood for great street photography, insightful thinking, and very eloquent prose!)