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Out On The Streets With The Leica M8

 

By Nicolas Raddatz

 

How I got into rangefinders

 

There was a point several years ago when I was very much into analog photography. One of the main reasons I was attracted to film was the possibility of using a variety of small, quirky old cameras that engaged me in a totally different way to my large, clunky DSLR. I was lucky to find a few gems in flea markets around town, such as the venerable Olympus 35 RC, the Olympus XA or the Rollei 35. Even if it was for a relatively short period, I was in love - silent, unconspicuous and portable, these cameras instantly hit a sweet sport for me, with their idiosyncratic operation and unique, special way of rendering what was in front of the lens. They could spark imagination in a way my "modern" cameras could not even dream of in their plastic guts. But, they were outdated, unreliable and limited in many ways.

 

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"Mama Call" - Montevideo, Uruguay - November 2009 (Olympus XA)

 

After a while, I found myself wanting a more serious instrument that could offer a similar, engaging and minimalistic experience. I settled for a Voigtlander Bessa R3A rangefinder with a Nokton 50mm f/1.5 LTM. That camera meant business. It had a bright 1:1 viewfinder, a proper meter, it supported M-mount lenses. I had a blast with it for a while, but, the timing was not right. Soon after I got it I embarked into a years long photography project that took me out to rural areas of my country shooting horse races. It was not the right tool for that project, where I would be out shooting under extreme conditions, such as rain, mud, driving on dusty roads for hundreds of kilometers. I needed the ruggedness, general operational speed, and convenience of my Canon 7D DSLR. So, I just never got to bond with the Bessa. I got some beautiful pictures with it, loved the mighty Nokton for its smooth buttery bokeh and character, but, in the end, i just could not afford having it sitting on my closet unused.

 

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"Drums" - Montevideo, Uruguay - October 2009 (Voigtlander Bessa R3A, Nokton 50mm 1.5)

 

 

 

First Impressions on the Leica M8

Several years went by, and I still regarded that short, torrid affair with rangefinders and compact cameras as one of the most exciting and fun periods in my personal photography. I was finding less and less attractive shooting with big sized cameras for my personal projects. So, finally, in 2013, my finances allowed me to fulfill a years long dream: I was able to get my hands on a barely used Leica M8 with a Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH.

 

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"Montevideo Rasta" - Montevideo, Uruguay - October 2013 (Leica M8, Summicron 35mm ASPH)

 

 

What I first noticed when holding the camera was how hefty it was, heavier than I ever expected, certainly heavier than any of the comparable cameras I had held before. It was compact, but not small by today's standards. The build quality was absolutely solid, in a good, reasurring way. The shutter speed dial and all buttons click with a positive response. The mode dial is way too loose, which is perplexing on a camera with such a focus on haptics. The optional grip is, in my opinion, a must have - It dramatically improves the handling of the camera, which is otherwise uncomfortable to handhold for extended periods of time. The viewfinder is bright and clear, and, as I have more and more experience with the camera, it proves to be one of the main differences with anything else currently on the market. More on this later.

The Summicron 35mm ASPH feels great, and has just the right balance between size, weight, and tactile feeling. The lens focus ring is silky smooth, the aperture ring has clear detents every half a stop. This lens alone justifies for me everything I had read about the build quality of Leica optics and craftmanship.

 

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"Killing Time" - Montevideo, Uruguay - October 2013 (Leica M8, Summicron 35mm ASPH)

 

 

Rediscovering the craft of photography

My first outings with the camera were an exercise in frustration. Even though I have a solid background on photographic theory and technique, somehow the convenience of automation, matrix metering, live view, and astronomic high iso performance had made me a lazy photographer. I found myself losing shots because of mis-focusing, having set the wrong shutter speed, or due to inaccurate framing. I felt clunky with the camera in the streets. It was, by far, the most demanding camera i had ever used. The learning curve proved to be steep.

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"Untitled" - Montevideo, Uruguay - September 2013 (Leica M8, Summicron 35mm ASPH)

 

But, lo and behold, a newly found confidence began to emerge. I learned to embrace the camera's idiosyncrasies and accept its limitations. My approach to photography changed in a subtle, yet powerful way. I was no longer "taking" pictures. I was
making
them. I was in total charge of the image making process, from choosing the aperture, to the shutter speed to the focus distance. I relearned to assess exposure by feel, and under most circumstances I'm able to quickly set ISO, aperture and shutter speed just by looking at the scene in front of me, and be more or less in the ballpark. This has allowed me unexpected freedom - once the camera is set the way I want it to be, I can almost use it like a point and shoot, but with the feeling of a proper, serious tool.

 

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"Smoke Break" - Montevideo, Uruguay - October 2013 (Leica M8, Summicron 35mm ASPH)

 

Chance and serendipity are now partners in my photographic journey. These are wild partners, mind you. Sometimes they ruin what I thought was a great shot. But sometimes, they greet me with an unexpected image, that I didn't even imagine. In that sense, shooting the Leica M8 is the closest to shooting a film camera I've experienced in a long time. What I see on the viewfinder is, by definition, only an approximation to what the final image will look like. With the LCD screen off, there's little trace of electronic "stuff" getting in the middle of the photographic experience. I can operate the camera in its entirety with real, mechanical, controls. A quick glance at the camera informs me of aperture, shutter speed and focus. With practice, you learn to count the "clicks" of the dials/rings, and the position of the focusing tab for key distances, thus making adjustments on the fly possible just by feel.

 

Composing through a direct viewfinder has changed how I approach my subjects too. Whereas a DSLR finder or a mirrorless EVF removes the photographer from the scene, almost like peeping into it, the Leica's viewfinder conduces to a more natural connection to the environment. There's something about the direct finder that is difficult to explain in words, but that surfaces after a while shooting exclusively with it. Now, when I grab any other camera, I can instantly feel something's different, something's missing.

 

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"Eye by Eye" - Montevideo, Uruguay - September 2013 (Leica M8, Summicron 35mm ASPH)

 

The shutter sound is muted, pretty much a dry "clack" sound. Even though I've heard that it is nowhere as silent as other brethrens of the M series, it is certainly soft and discreet enough for street photography. If you are used to a DSLR shutter, the M shutter sound is almost a revelation.

 

The limited high iso performance requires shooting wide open at slower shutter speeds when in low light. Manually focusing a fast lens and shooting at slow shutter speeds can be real challenge, but the resulting images have a charm, an organic mood that makes it worthwhile. A judicious level of motion blur can make a picture way more alive than the same image taken at high iso, and "freezing action". Slow shutter speed is not an enemy, but a friend that can bring pictures to life.

 

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"Antennae" - Montevideo, Uruguay - September 2013 (Leica M8, Voigtlander Nokton 40mm 1.4)

 

 

Conclusion: The "M" experience

The "M" series embodies the archetypal street and reportage camera due to its size, looks, and overall discreet operation. Shooting an M is as much about the end results as it is about the journey - It pays homage to a rich tradition of humanist photography, to the legacy of the wanderer who shoots at street level and is able to find the beauty, the quirkiness, the humor out of fleeting moments of everyday life.

 

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"Non Verbal Communications" - Montevideo, Uruguay - September 2013 (Leica M8, Summicron 35mm ASPH)

 

The Leica rangefinder is specialized tool, and as such, early on it imposes its character on the photographer. The simple, back to basics approach to photography, is a breath of fresh air in a photographic landscape dominated by cameras that feel more like computers than tools to express your vision. It requires being nurtured, learned, and practiced, but will reward those who are willing to embrace its limitations with a more intimate, natural connection with the photographic process.

 

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"Choices" - Montevideo, Uruguay - August 2013 (Leica M8, Summicron 35mm ASPH)

 

Shooting the "M" is about the satisfaction of mastering a fine precision tool, just like a musical instrument. It is about trusting ones instincts, discovering the fine balance between total control and the vertigo of chance and serendipity. Shooting a rangefinder is not a technical need, but rather a chosen experience.

 

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"I Love My Neighborhood" - Montevideo, Uruguay - September 2013 (Leica M8, Summicron 35mm ASPH)

 

Πηγή: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/out_on_the_streets_with_the_leica_m8.shtml

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Την Leica μπορεί να μην την γνωρίζετε, αν δεν ασχολείστε σοβαρά με την φωτογραφία. Κάποιες από τις φωτογραφίες που έχουν τραβηχτεί με Leica όμως, σίγουρα θα τις αναγνωρίσετε:

 

 

 

 

100 years of the Leica camera – in pictures

 

 

From Henri Cartier-Bresson to Annie Leibovitz, many of the 20th century’s defining images were shot on a Leica

 

The Observer, Sunday 24 August 2014

 

 

 

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New York City, 2000. Erwitt produced many images incorporating the canine to beguiling effect.

Photograph: Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos

 

 

 

 

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Portugal, 1976. The silent operation of the Leica allowed Josef Koudelka to shoot unnoticed. This shot is taken from his book Exiles.

Photograph: Josef Koudelka/Magnum Photos

 

 

 

 

 

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Hyeres, 1932. A great example of the painterly photographer.

Photograph: Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

 

 

 

 

 

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Children in the gorbals, Glasgow, 1948.

 

Photograph: Bert Hardy/Hulton/Getty

 

 

 

 

 

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South Vietnamese forces follow terrified children, including nine-year-old Kim Phuc, centre, as they run down Route1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places on 8 June 1972.

 

Photograph: Nick Ut/Associated Press

 

 

 

 

 

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Overcrowded housing in London’s Elephant and Castle in 1948. Hardy modified his Leica so it would perform better in low light conditions.

 

Photograph: Bert Hardy/Hulton/Getty

 

 

 

 

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‘Sailor kissing the nurse’, New York, 14 August 1945.

Photograph: Alfred Eisenstaedt/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty

 

 

 

 

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42nd Street, New York City, 1960. A long-time Observer photographer, Neil Libbert used a Leica M3 camera with a 35m Summicron lens.

 

Photograph: Neil Libbert

 

 

 

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Harlem race riots, New York, 1964.

 

Photograph: Neil Libbert

 

 

 

 

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Caravan park in Kerry, 2013. Observer technology columnist and Leica fanatic John Naughton says : ‘The “austerity” regime imposed as a condition of the EU bailout was visible everywhere in Ireland at the time. The little boy was dejected because nobody would play football with him. It was one of those metaphorical moments.

 

Photograph: John Naughton

 

 

 

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Russian soldiers flying the Red Flag, made from table cloths, over the ruins of the Reichstag in Berlin, 1945.

 

Photograph: Yevgeny Khaldei/Getty Images

 

 

Πηγή: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2014/aug/24/100-years-of-the-leica-camera-in-pictures?CMP=fb_gu

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Τη Leica οι τοπογράφοι τη γνωρίζουμε ΠΟΛΥ καλά, μιας κι είναι από τους κορυφαίους κατασκευαστές τοπογραφικών οργάνων στον κόσμο.

Δεν είναι άλλωστε η μόνη εταιρεία που παράγει και τοπογραφικά όργανα και φωτογραφικές μηχανές. Αν κατέχεις τεχνογνωσία γύρω από τους φακούς, μπορείς να τα κάνεις και τα δύο.


Γόνδολες υπάρχουν ΜΟΝΟ στη Βενετία.

 

Στα βουνά μας ανεβάζουν τα τελεφερίκ.-

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Opinion: Is the M Monochrom Typ 246 an anachronism or a modern marvel?

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There is nothing new about cameras that only shoot in black and white. In fact, before the popularization of color film all cameras shot exclusively in black and white. That might seem a silly thing to point out, but it is worth noting that there was an extensive period of photographic history when all photographers bought cameras and lenses with a head full of the black and white pictures they were going to shoot with them. There wasn't too much choice, of course, though inks and retouching existed for those who insisted on color. In those days snappers could see, think and imagine in black and white, and spent their whole hobby time, and professional life, operating that way.
When color film arrived not everyone switched immediately, and some not at all. Color was more expensive for a long while and in the minds of many not necessarily better either. Now our choice is freer of course, and shooting in color is an infinitely more common practice than working in black and white, though apps and software have brought mono effects to the smartphones and laptops of the masses. There is a certain reverence attached to the black and white image, and many consider it a somewhat higher, more serious and more valuable art form - often simply for the lack of color.
For the majority of people who shoot film and who like to process it themselves, working in black and white will be the norm. And while all film cameras have the potential to shoot in color as well as in black and white it's not unreasonable to assume that the majority of those still in use are employed almost solely in the business of recording the world in shades of grey. So, while there might be few cameras that can only shoot in black and white, cameras that do only shoot in black and white are considerably more common than most people would at first believe.
255 shades of grey
What's remarkable about the Monochrom (Typ 246) and its predecessor, the Monochrom, is not so much that it will spend its life shooting in black and white, but that it is a camera that offers no option for recording in color. We all have the option to use our digital cameras in mono-mode, but we can also switch back to color at any time we like – and indeed shoot color and mono at the same time. This camera restricts our choices, reduces our options, inhibits our flexibility and holds us to a single style of shooting. So how can that possibly be a good thing?
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The Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 features a full frame 24MP sensor without a color filter array.
The difference between this camera and color cameras that can also shoot in black and white, is that this one uses all its energies in the pursuit of black and white without the severe handicaps that come with pandering to the complications of determining color hues and shades using filters, average values and guess work. This is a camera that gives a voice to each individual pixel instead of singing the aggregated notes of groups of four, so recording and output has a distinctly higher fidelity than normal cameras of the same pixel count can achieve.
Mono for today, not yesteryear
A digital camera designed just for black and white is again not anything new and unique, as we've had them before, but what makes the Monochrom (Type 246) stand out even from the original Monochrom is that it does it well, with a level of convenience appropriate to 2015, and in a way that doesn't make the user feel he or she has to step back in time to achieve a quality result.
As fabulous as the original Monochrom is at producing images of outstanding quality, the machine made me question why Leica wanted its users to endure so much while forcing the camera to take pictures. I accept that suffering for our art is par for the course and pain is often the surest route to progress and success, but the Monochrom took that all a step too far. With its slow processor and low resolution rear screen, shooting black and white felt very much like a second rate pastime, as though mono-shooters had no use for the comforts of modern day living and would happily accept whatever they were given. It was as though black and white shooters deserved less than those shooting in color. Working in black and white should not be a hair shirt.
The new Monochrom (Typ 246) actually reverses that principle, elevating the mono-shooter to a position of comfort in which he is worthy of the very latest technology and, indeed, features that out-spec the flagship M (Typ 240). While many have found it easy to describe the Typ 246 as a black and white version of the M (Typ 240), its extra-large buffer and frame guideline switch take it a step further than that, to sit more in line with the M-P premium color camera.
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The Monochrom Typ 246 offers a modern 3" 921k-dot LCD compared to its predecessor's 2.5" 230k-dot screen.
And so it should. If we are going to spend this much on a camera that can only shoot black and white, it should be about as good as a black and white camera can be. By that I mean that as well as first class picture quality, using it should be a first class experience too - so no waiting around, no delays, no missed shots and a decent way to monitor what settings are in use and to see what the pictures you are shooting look like. And we even have Live View for focusing uncoupled lenses, accurate framing and to change the life of those who own the Leica M macro bellows set.
I can't tell you that the new Monochrom (Typ 246) is perfect, but it is streets ahead of the original model. Leica has fixed many of the issues that made the 2012 camera second rate in comparison to the company's more recent cameras and below the standard you would expect for a brand that prides itself on making the best cameras in the world. It is now as usable as the current M and M-P, and the best Leica can offer.
Uniqueness comes at a price
It is as pointless to discuss the price of the M-Monochrom (Typ 246) as it is to discuss the cost of any of the Leica products. Ownership requires the exchange of significant funds, and unfortunately those are funds we do not all possess for the purchase of camera equipment. There are cars we can afford, and cars we can't, just as some houses are within our means and others beyond. We have to accept that, and cut our cloth accordingly. To someone who has the money to spend, the Monochrom will be a great purchase. If they use it well and often, and enjoy what it offers, it will prove itself very good value. If you struggle to buy it and come to resent that you can't afford to buy the lenses your style requires, it will prove a poor companion.
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My own feeling is that this is an extraordinary camera, and if 17,337.5€ (6,583.02€ US without a lens) meant less to me than it does, I would buy one and three lenses to go with it. The camera offers something no other camera can. That unique quality is extremely valuable in my eyes, as it is a quality I really would like to be able to bring to my photography. This isn't just unique because it shoots black and white, but because of the way in which it shoots black and white.
Recently a well-known and respected photographer told me that he doesn't need a Monochrom because his DSLR can do the same thing. He is clearly mistaken. There isn't a DSLR that can do the same thing – all DSLRs use interpolation and use filters that cut light and force guess-work, and many use low pass filters that reduce the detail-gathering abilities of any sensor. So, no, as good as most DSLRs are at shooting black and white this just isn't the same. It is something entirely different, and far better.
Dumb or genius?
You might still think that the whole idea is just dumb and a waste of effort, but Leica isn't stupid. It knows its market very well. A black and white camera might be an oddity in 2015, but no more than the M-A film camera, or the M Edition 'Leica 60' with no LCD. The company has updated its black and white camera offering because the popularity of the original model proved there is a good market for this sort of product.
Leica users like black and white. I spoke to the UK Leica Society recently about street photography. I showed mono and color versions of the same image, and asked who preferred which. While in most talks I've done the overwhelming majority prefer the color version, at the Leica Society the majority vocally voted for the black and white version. Offer these people a camera that is exceptional at creating black and white images and they'll have your arm off.
When there is a demand for anything, there will be a demand for that anything performed to the highest standards. And those highest standards will attract people who want the best and who are prepared to pay a good deal to get it. Do we need the Leica Monochrom? Well, not everyone will, but I'm pretty certain there'll be enough people who want one to create a waiting list that loops right around the block.


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old-scans_0026.jpg

 

Toυ πατερα μου η leica me τον 73mm f1,8 και viewfinder για καδραρισματα ακριβειας

Ειχε μοχλο με μετρα που μετεφερες το νουμερο απο το νεταρισμα του φακου Ο_o

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allroundview.jpg

 

Ένα πραγματικά ενδιαφέρον κομμάτι. Autofocus, full frame, με ένα καλό αισθητήρα, πραγματικά σύγχρονες προδιαγραφές οθόνης και οφθαλμοσκοπίου, εξαιρετικό interface και handling, την γνωστή ποιότητα κατασκευής Leica και ένα summilux (f/1,7) που ξυρίζει.
Απλά να υπενθυμίσω ότι τα γενέθλια μου είναι στις 11 Σεπτεμβρίου.
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Πηρε πολυ κοσμο στο λαιμο του ο Henri Cartier-Bresson...

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