Saturday, August 28, 2010

One Wedding and A Leica, Part III

This must be a great year.  I don't remember having so many close friends getting married in the same year like this.  It's also great because I can now bring a real camera (other than a compact) to the wedding and stand a  chance of getting a few good shots.  This wedding is slightly different than the one earlier few months ago.  There are three separate events from the traditional Thai engagement, the church ceremony, and the evening reception.  The major different, though, is the size of this wedding which includes all the big names in business.  This alone entails a rather large group of hired photographers and videographers throughout the three events.  Which means getting a few good shots can be a little tricky, to say the least.  

Going to the wedding, I want to keep the M9 light so I can also keep my kids in check and mingle with friends without having to worry about my equipment.  So after some thinking, I decide on the following: 

Engagement ceremony - (held in confined space without too many guests - and, boy, was I wrong about that one) M9 + Zeiss ZM 50/2.0

Church ceremony - M9 + Noctilux for that low-light, magical background rendering, making the most of the church environment

Evening reception - Lots of people, low-light, M9 + 35 Summilux to handle low light and group photos

The biggest challenge, for me, shooting this wedding was the videographer who frequently swoops around the couple with his Canon DSLR, trying to shoot video footage.  This is an additional video to the main video camera.  I'm sure the photographers (from a different studio) were equally frustrated with him. Sometimes I wonder if the wedding photos / videos are actually more important than the wedding itself.  

Well, the final results are posted below.  Another confirmation that the M9 is truly a superb equipment that doesn't get in the way like big DSLR would. I hope you like them as much as I do.  

One of the better formality shots. My friend, the groom, seems tensed most of the time.

Just as the ceremony finishes, the couple is much more at ease.

The church exit fills with swooping videographer and other photographers.
I struggle with the Noctilux focusing here but the images are not too bad.

I like this candid shot of the groom.

The next couple to be married in November!

I pre-focus the 'Lux to shoot from my waist level. A fun shot of a friend of mine!

An evening formality on stage.  I love the contrast and how the backdrop is rendered.

A very happy couple cutting their wedding cake!

A small surprise from the groom who requested his cousin (a singer) to sing a special song for his wife.

Have a nice weekend,


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Leica Rangefinder Philosophy

This is a great write-up by Robert Boyer, published on Steve Huff's site.  It's well-written and very concise.  If you've been shooting both formats, I'm sure you can relate very well to this philosophy.  Enjoy reading!

Leica Rangefinder Philosophy by Robert Boyer

Have a great weekend ahead.  I have much more shooting to do!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The 50mm Alternative

It is a well known fact that Leica lens don't come cheap, new or used.  I have been rather fortunate to get a hold of some used Leica lenses at reasonable prices.  Even then, I had to sacrifice a few precious items for them!  In the last few months that I've been shooting the M9, I've always wanted a full 3-lens kit that I can comfortably take with me anywhere.  My main problem is really the Noctilux which weighs more than half a kilogram!  It is a real nice lens but I normally don't bring anything else if I have the Noct mounted on the M9.

So, I had been keeping my eyes open for a used 50 Cron, also one of the best lens Leica makes.  These don't come cheap either, provide that one can even find (used) one in the first place.  Recently, I start looking into the Zeiss ZM Planar 50/f2.  It's priced reasonably, small, and very sharp.  After a few phone calls, browsing the internet, a week later I have the Planar in my hand.  It feels well-built and solid (but not quite as tactile as Leica's).  The focus ring seems a little slow at first, but it does loosen up after a week or two of use.  The hood, purchased separately, is identical to Voigtlander's lens hood.  It screws and locks on the silver ring around the front of the lens.

The ZM Planar travels with me on our latest family trip to Koh Samui in the south of Thailand.  Immediately on the first day, I can appreciate how light and compact it is, staying in my bag with the 35 'Lux, and an EP-L1 with 20mm/1.7.  The bag (more on that in another update) feels a little heavy but is manageable through the entire trip.  If I had replaced the EP-L1 with my D-Lux 4, it would have been lighter for sure.  So the ZM Planar passes its first test with flying color.

With the ZM Planar, I set the M9 to manual lens coding.  I shoot the ZM Planar from f2.0 through f5.6 most of the time, and rarely go beyond f5.6.  It seems (to the naked eyes) that wide open, it isn't tact sharp but it's still very good.  Stopping it down a few clicks and the images are even sharper. Below are some quick comparisons between two different aperture settings.  

ZM Planar @ f2.0

ZM Planar @ f4.0

ZM Planar @ f2.0 (Center)

ZM Planar @ f4.0 (Center)

ZM Planar @ f2.0 (Lower right corner)

ZM Planar @ f4.0 (Lower right corner)

The following are some of real world photos taken with the ZM Planar at various apertures.  This lens, given its more affordable prices and compact size, makes a great 50mm alternative for your M9.  

Some fun with Color Monochrome adjustments

Have a great week,