Thursday, August 25, 2011

Is the M9 a serious Landscape Camera?

Mono Lake, Eastern Sierra CA February 2010
Summicron 50mm f/5.7 1/2000 ISO 160
There's been a lot of questions raised on whether or not the Leica M9 can hack it as a "serious landscape" camera.

Monument Valley, July 2010
the rest is unknown more than likely the Summarit 90mm

Along Mt Lemmon Road, Oracle AZ July 2010

Summarit 90mm f/3.4 1/2000 ISO 160

The short answer is yes.  The slightly longer answer is why not.

Outside the Chiricahua National Monument, southeast AZ April 2010

Summicron 35mm f/6.7 1/1000 ISO 160

Green River Overlook, Islands In The Sky District, Canyonlands National Park Moab UT, May 2010, Summicron 35mm f/9.5 1/500 ISO 160

Admittedly my exposure to Leica and the M9 only began 18 months ago (February 2010) however in the short time I've had the pleasure of using it I've developed a certain fondness for it; especially in respect to landscape work.

 Inadvertent duplicate of #3

The M9 as a rangefinder camera is not an easy camera to use (but then again the Cambo WRS my primary landscape camera isn't either). I think people tend to think that having all the bells and whistles is needed for "good" photography. There simply isn't a camera being offered in any format that will make you a better photographer. Hard work, testing the limits of yourself and your gear does. Experimentation goes a long way as well. That being said I have found the M9 opening my eyes to see the world around me slightly different.

 Somewhere along the road to Alpine AZ July 2010

Summicron 50mm f/2.8 1/4000 ISO 160

Alpine AZ July 2010

Summicron 50mm f/9.5 1/500 ISO 320

Alpine AZ July 2010

Summicron 35mm f/2.4 1/4000 ISO 160

I used the M9 in Yosemite shortly after getting it and was more than pleased.  Since getting the M9 I've used it in capturing landscape in Yosemite, Death Valley, Hovenweep National Monument,  Moab, and Jackson Hole WY just to mention a few.  I've used the M9 to capture landscape as well as nature and in some cases even wildlife. Most recently I used it in and around Page AZ where I captured images in slot canyons.

Monterey Bay Aquarium February 2010

Summicron 50mm f/2 1/30 ISO 250

Jackson Hole WY October 2010

APO Telyt 135mm f/5.7 1/60 ISO 160

The original thought in getting the M9 was to use it as a companion camera to my medium format thinking I could use it to scout areas I'd want to return to do "serious" work. I was proved wrong within the first couple weeks.  I feel and have written about this before, that the M9 holds its own against my primary landscape gear and I feel the M9 is a full-partner to my medium format system.  I recently came back from a week in Utah where I used both the medium format and M9 to capture landscape.  I returned from that trip with 2-images, 1- taken with the P65+ the other with the M9.  The only caveat is printing size with the largest print size for the M9 being 24x36.

Slot Canyon Page AZ June 2011

Elmarit 24mm f/11 1/8 ISO 250

Fort Apache AZ July 2011

Elmarit 24mm f/13 1/180 ISO 400

Jackson Hole WY October 2010

Elmarit 24mm f/8 1/90 ISO 160

So again the answer to the question of whether or not is a Leica M9 capable of being a serious landscape camera is yes.  But you have to work for it.

While my answer here might not be technical I feel the images speak for themselves.

Thank you as always for visiting and please remember your comments, suggestions, and questions are always welcome.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Leica M9 & Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.1 Part II

Tombstone Arizona, the town too tough to die.  Founded in 1879, Tombstone is located in Cochise County and was one of the last wide-open frontier boomtowns in the American Old West.  What better place to keep testing a fast wide-open lens than here...

f/8 1/2000 ISO 1000

f/1.1 1/250 ISO 1000

f/1.1 1/250 ISO 1000

f/1.1 1/250 ISO 1000

Tombstone is a 2-hour drive southeast of Tucson.  Arriving late morning and hungry we decided to grab lunch at Big Nose Kates Saloon where we met Courtney.  The inside is the saloon is rather dark however setting the Nokton wide-open at f/1.1 and the ISO set on auto we were able to get a couple great images.  While primarily a landscape photographer I think I was able to get a couple decent images of Courtney who I wish to thank very much for standing still while I figured out the focus.  

The Shady Lady's Closet
406 East Allen, Tombstone AZ
f/1.1 1/500 ISO 320

f/1.1 1/350 ISO 1000

f/1.1 1/350 ISO 1000

f/1.1 1/350 ISO 200

f/1.1 1/350 ISO 640

The remainder of the images were all taken while walking Allen Street.

f/1.1 1/350 ISO 640

An ants' view of the sidewalk

f/8 1/350 ISO 250

f/16 1/350 ISO 250

f/1.1 1/2000 ISO 160

f/1.1 1/2000 ISO 160

There's an old buckboard wagon that's been sitting on a corner for as long as we've been going to Tombstone.  The last time I was here I had a Canon G10 and took several images and had to capture more on this visit.  While the wagon has seen better days I've always been drawn to the wheels and undercarriage.  These were all taken in bright noon light. 

f/16 1/350 ISO 160

f/16 1/350 ISO 250

f/16 1/350 ISO 250

Driving through Benson AZ we happened to pass the Arizona Saddle Blanket Company - too bad they were closed.  I feel another road trip coming.....

f/8 1/2000 ISO 1000

We traveled very light on this visit taking just the Leica M9 with the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm 1.1 attached and a spare battery. The images were all processed using a combination of Photoshop CS5 and Nik Software (either Silver Efex Pro or HDR Efex Pro). The plan (at least for now) is to see if I touch my Summicron 50mm before deciding what to do with it. The more I use the Nokton the more I like it and the more I think I'd like the .95 Noctilux however I'll have to wait until my ship comes in and I fear they haven't even laid the keel yet.

I've ordered a Hoya ND filter for the lens and hope to test the combination with wide-open shooting shortly.

I wish to thank once again Courtney at Big Nose Kates Saloon and Geri at The Shady Ladies Closet for allowing me to photograph them. And as always, thank you for visiting and please remember your comments, suggestions and questions are always welcome. Next year Arizona celebrates its 100 year anniversary as a state - if you plan on visiting please remember Tombstone.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Eastern Pinal Regional Coalition Against Domestic Violence (EPRCADV)

When we learned the Eastern Pinal Regional Coalition Against Domestic Violence (EPRCADV) was seeking ways to raise funds for a new resource center in San Manuel Arizona we thought we'd help. The EPRCADV is a new origination in the area with great ideas. Their plan is to kick off their new resource center in September then later on join the Pima County Coalition and offer a safe shelter in the Catalina area which will serve the needs of the local area within both counties.

We felt that one of the ways we could offer assistance is by donating a printed image for a raffle and Desert View Panorama came to mind.

Desert View Panorama is a 30x60 image printed on canvas and stretched on heavy-duty stretcher bars.  This image was captured in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon August 2007 and has received great attention first in a printed article and later licensed by the camera manufacture for use in trade shows.  This image is offered as a limited edition of 25 with number 20 currently being offered for sale.

When we decided to donate the image we also decided to make it even more special than what it already is.  The image is printed with a higher percentage of ink giving it an even deeper, richer tone quality.  The image is also printed on the new Epson Exhibition Canvas that gives professional photographers and fine artists museum worthy image quality and durability.

We offer our standard 30x60 print at $3,100 and have placed a value of this print at $4,000.  This print being offered here is not part of the numbered edition and is considered an artist proof.  The certificate included with the image specifies this image as being printed specifically for the Eastern Pinal Regional Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The raffle begins shortly with a minimum of 150 tickets needed to be purchased out of a maximum of 250 total.  The raffle tickets are $20.00 each with the anticipated drawing on December 15, 2011.  The winner of the image will be responsible for any shipping.

The following individuals are the points of contact for the raffle:

Linda Kadlecek         520-487-2355
Edie Crall                 520-825-3738
Ken Conrad              520-818-0336

Please help by contacting one of the above individuals and make a commitment to purchase a raffle ticket. Thank You!

Sandy & Don

Friday, August 5, 2011

Leica M9 & Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.1

Left - Leica Summicron 50mm f/2
Right - Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.1

I went to Yosemite shortly after getting the M9 in 2010 and found I fell in love shooting landscape with it.  I started out originally with 3-focal lengths, Summicron 35mm f/2 and 50mm f/2 as well as a Summarit 90mm f/2.5.  I enjoyed using this trio adding an Elmarit 24mm f/2.8 in August and later in September I was fortunate in finding a 135mm f/3.4 APO Telyt juts before going to Jackson Hole WY.

Cheyenne Dog Soldier
f/1.1 1/250 ISO 500

I've used the 5-lenses with great success shooting in Yosemite, Yellowstone, Teton National Parks, as well as in Jackson Wyoming and Arizona and Utah in such places as Monument Valley, and in slot Canyons and Cliff Dwellings.

Cheynne Dog Soldier
f/1.1 1/250 ISO 1000

What I'm leading up to is that shortly after I returned from my first trip with the Leica I met a friend and fellow Leica photographer for lunch and "show and tell".  I was a Leica neophyte (and in many ways still am) and welcomed the chance to meet with and discuss various lenses available for my M9.  It was here that I was introduced to the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.1. 

f/1.1 1/1000 ISO 500

One of the things I enjoy about using the Leica system is the size of the lenses. I can fit 2 or 3 in my hand. I can place the 35mm or 50mm in the palm of my hand and close it and feel like I'm holding something slight larger than a roll of quarters. I've gone on walks (Fort Apache & Kinishba Ruins) where I have a lens connected and carry a spare in my pocket with no need to carry a bag.

f/1.1 1/1000 ISO 500

The size of the 50mm has one downsize and that is often times it's so small my hand envelops it as I try for critical focus. I've learned to work around it however.

Going back to my lunch meeting with the Voigtlander; I remember being very impressed with the size, the general feel in my hands, as well as the all too few sample image files I left with. I remember returning home and telling Sandy about the lens and how impressed I was saying "someday".

"Mr Moose"
f/1.1 1/1000 ISO 1000

Someday came last month. I finally ordered a new Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.1 from Stephen Gandy's CameraQuest paying a total of $1014 including shipping.

f/1.1 1/250 ISO 1000

I've been experimenting with the lens for the past couple weeks shooting in normal to low light normally found in various rooms; all at f/1.1 and have been very pleased with the results. So far what I've done is have the ISO set to "Auto" and changed the shutter speed.

f/1.1 1/250 ISO 1000

I want to thank our good friends Marykay and Mike for allowing me to use them and their puppies in my experimentation. 

f/1.1 1/1000 ISO 1000

f/1.1 1/500 ISO 1000

I've found the Voigtlander easy to use handheld as it just feels "right" in my hand.  I've also found this lens to be extremely easy to focus and in the end the image files are great.

One final note:  Please don't misconstrue the testing as anything other than my attempt to be familiar with what I can hope to accomplish with the lens. 

Thank you as always for allowing me to share and please remember your questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome.