Leica D-Lux 7 Compact Camera Review

Leica D-Lux 7 Compact Camera Review:

I know there are many who consider the D-Lux series of cameras just re-badged versions of their Panasonic cousins, and while there is some truth to that, there are some differences.  Plus, the D-Lux series does mean a lot to me.  My digital photography started off with a D-Lux 3.  I was a diehard film shooter that just didn’t want to switch to digital.  I was happily shooting with my Leica M6 and Mamiya 6 MF (man, I still wish I had that camera).  It’s funny because now I love digital :).  That D-Lux 3 played a crucial part because it was the camera that eased me into the digital world.  So, when a new D-Lux is released, such as, the new D-Lux 7, I’m always up to giving it a go, and seeing what has been improved.  Speaking of, the new Leica D-Lux 7 has definitely been improved but at the same time, I’m glad to see a lot of the features that were just about perfect, have remained in this new version. Let’s get started.

Leica D-Lux 7 Build Quality:

I have to admit I’m kind of like a kid in a candy store when a new Leica product arrives at my doorstep.  It could be a big ticket item like a camera or some small accessory like one of those cool magnifiers for the M.  I still get that feeling, and it’s something I definitely felt when I first received the new Leica D-Lux 7.  The price for this new model is $1,195, which is definitely not cheap but it also isn’t nearly as expensive as Leica’s flagship cameras.  After opening the box to the new D-Lux 7, I was greeted with a very solid and well-made camera.

↑ Leica D-Lux 7.

It’s a beautiful one as well; the chrome is a really a nice touch if you ask me, and I just love the clean lines. It has the red dot like many other Leica cameras but you definitely don’t need it to know it’s a Leica; Leica DNA is written all over it.  So far, it only comes in this one color but as some of you know, Leica has been known to make special editions of many of their cameras, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see other colors in the future.  I know some may want black because it is more “discreet” but the camera itself is already so compact that it really doesn’t draw that much attention when you’re out street shooting, for instance.

I had a D-Lux Typ 109, and one feature I loved was the tactile controls, which I’m glad to say, are also on the new Leica D-Lux 7.  These controls aren’t just for show either.  They aren’t just there to make the D-Lux 7 look “retro”.  They fully work, serve specific functions, and in my opinion, the tactile controls are one of the main features that help distinguish the D-Lux 7 from the rest of its competitors.  Dials for the shutter speed, and EV compensation are on the top plate. The dials offer a nice firm feel as you rotate them to your chosen setting.  There’s also an aperture ring on the lens.  Tactile controls like this aren’t just a rarity in a camera like this but are always great to have on any camera because they fully involve the photographer in the photographic process.  I also find it quicker in general to make crucial adjustments in this way than going through a menu system, for instance.  Bottom line is, if you’re serious about your photography, these controls are great to have.  Of course, if you want to go full auto, you can do that as well.

↑ The D-Lux 7 has great tactile controls.

In addition to the controls, there is also a built-in 2.76m-dot electronic viewfinder with a large, 0.7x magnification.  It’s sharp, clear, and the colors are decent.  It’s great to use, especially during the day because lag isn’t really an issue, and it does offer a very natural and lifelike view.  In dimly lit situations however, it does get a bit grainy and there is a bit more lag.  Overall though, it’s great to have a real viewfinder on a point and shoot.  In addition to the tactile controls that I previously mentioned, the EVF is another great feature that helps make the Leica D-Lux 7 feel even less like a point and shoot and more like a “real” camera.  Shooting while having your arms extended, and looking through the LCD display is just not the same as using an actual viewfinder like the one on the D-Lux 7.

Speaking of the LCD display, it’s a 3″ 1.24m-dot touchscreen.  It does not swivel or flip in any way, which I actually prefer.  I’m not sure what a flip screen would do to the camera’s clean lines or even to its solid feel, and the truth is, I rarely use flip screens any way (I have one on my Fuji X-T3).  Still, considering what type of camera the D-Lux 7 is, I would imagine this being a small issue for some.  People are going to use this like a point and shoot; they are going to use the D-Lux 7 on vacation with their friends and families.  It will replace a camera phone for some, and for all these situations, a flip screen is more versatile.  But I imagine the flip screen would also make the D-Lux 7 larger, which is no good either.

↑ The D-Lux 7 has a decent LCD display but it is not articulating.  It also has a built-in EVF.

There are also a bunch of other features worth mentioning.  For one, the focus point of an exposure can be changed after shooting.  There’s also Focus Stacking where you superimpose several shots onto each other with different focus points to get a greater depth of field in macro, for instance. The D-Lux can shoot up to 11 fps.  The D-Lux 7 also has the ability to record in 4K at a frame rate of up to 30 fps, and 100 Mbit in MP4 and AVCHD-format.  Lastly, you can use the Leica FOTOS app with the D-Lux 7.

In terms of overall layout and design of the Leica D-Lux 7, you’re dealing with something that is clean and straight to the point in typical Leica fashion.  The menu system isn’t a killer to figure out, and the button layout is kept as simple as possible with no unnecessary extras.  Everything here is designed to keep you concentrating on the actual shooting, not the sometimes overwhelming electronic extras found in some modern cameras these days.

Any complaints about the overall design?  For one, while the camera looks great, I found it to be a little slippery at times.  You could purchase the Leica Handgrip but if you ask me, it kills the clean lines of the D-Lux 7.  Plus it costs $150.  I think Leica should’ve added the leatherette that is found on cameras like the M and the CL instead of using the matte/semi-gloss black.  In this way, the D-Lux 7 will still have that two tone look of its larger, and more expensive siblings but will also be less slippery.

I was also a little disappointed when I saw the inner barrel of the lens extend.  The inner barrel is black but the outer barrel of the lens is silver, which to me, takes away a little bit of the premium look of the camera.

Also, while the D-Lux 7 does include a flash, which is a great thing, I kind of wish there was one that was actually built into the camera only because this would truly make it an “all-in-one”.  But the viewfinder takes up the flash space, and it is much more desirable to have that built into the D-Lux.  I wasn’t a huge fan of those optical viewfinders you had to attach in the hot shoe on the older D-Lux cameras.  Plus, I also wouldn’t want the camera to be any larger, and the flash is very compact.

Lastly, the “A” button on the top plate isn’t in a great location if you ask me.  I accidentally pressed it sometimes when I was turning the camera.

Overall though, I am nitpicking as they say, and of course, I should since this is essentially a $1,200 point and shoot.  But besides these issues, I am very happy with the camera’s design and layout.  It’s an absolutely beautiful looking premium compact, and the tactile controls really give the Leica D-Lux 7 more of a “real camera” feel when compared to many of its competitors.

Leica D-Lux 7 Autofocus:

In terms of focus, the Leica D-Lux 7 is very quick overall for a premium compact all-in-one camera.  It can hunt a little sometimes in poor lighting but there’s nothing out of the ordinary here.  The focusing is also pretty accurate.  I don’t believe it’s the quickest in its category of cameras but it sure will get the job done.  I don’t shoot sports but overall, I had no issues with the autofocus.

Leica D-Lux 7 Image Quality:

As for overall image quality, I feel like the Leica D-Lux 7 really delivers.  Sensor wise, it uses a pretty large one for a camera in its class.  It has a 17 MP Four Thirds sensor, which can be found in larger, interchangeable cameras.  The lens is the same one from the D-Lux 7’s predecessor: the Leica DC Vario-Summilux 10.9-34 f/1.7-2.8 ASPH.  The 35mm equivalent is a 24-75mm, and for the most part, it’s a nice lens but the zooming is a little slow.  It’s great to have the large aperture though not necessarily for shallow depth of field shots but more for versatility in dim lighting.

↑ I took this image at 500 ISO f4 with the lens set at 10.9mm.

↑ This was taken at 400 ISO f5.6.  The lens’ focal length was 15.9mm.

↑ This was taken at 320 ISO f2.7 with the lens set at 22mm.

Images are very sharp, contrast is good, and the color rendering is very nice.  In fact, I really like the colors that come out of the D-Lux 7.  They are strong and vibrant but at the same time realistic, which I find very important.  The reds are particularly nice in my opinion.

↑This was taken at 200 ISO f8 with the lens set at 10.9mm.

↑ The settings for this image were 200 ISO f2.8 with the lens set at 12.5mm.

↑ Here’s a shot taken at 200 ISO f5.6.  The lens was set at 34mm.

While all the images in this review are processed from RAW files, it’s worth mentioning that the out of camera jpegs are phenomenal, so if you do not want to spend your time editing RAW files, you’ll still get great looking images straight out of the camera.  In addition to being a Leica user, I’ve also been using the Fuji X Series system since the original original X100.  As many of you know, the Fuji out of camera jpegs have always been excellent.  I feel that the OOC jpegs from the new D-Lux 7, while different, rival the Fuji stuff.  It’s all a matter of personal taste, of course, but that’s just what I feel.

↑ This was taken at 400 IS0 f5.6 with the lens set at 10.9mm.  I converted it to black and white with Camera Raw in Photoshop CC.  I actually convert most of my images now into black and white with Camera Raw or Capture One.

↑ Here’s a shot taken at 1600 ISO f4 with the lens’ focal length set at 15.9mm.

↑ This was taken at 800 ISO f4 with the lens set at 13.6mm.

As for image noise, the Leica D-Lux 7 actually does a pretty good job of controlling it considering its category of camera.  I’m sure the larger sensor helps in this area.  For the most part, files are very clean at 1600 ISO to 3200 ISO.  Files at 6400 ISO also hold up a lot of detail but expect more noise.  Still, files produced at 6400 are very useable.  At 12,800 ISO, noise is definitely more noticeable but files are useable.  I save 25,600 ISO for emergencies.  It can get really noisy, and some banding can occur at times.  In terms of overall noise and detail, the RAW files are definitely better than what you would get out of the OOC jpegs.  There is smearing and loss of detail in the out of camera jpegs at 25,600 ISO, for example.  So, if you know ahead of time that you’re going to be using higher ISO, maybe have the camera set to produce both jpegs and RAW files, so if you don’t like how the jpegs turn out, you can always process the RAW files.  Overall though, the D-Lux really does a great job at higher ISO for a premium compact.

↑ This was taken at 1600 ISO f2.8 with the lens set at 34mm.  The D-Lux isn’t going to give you crazy bokeh but still, I wanted to see the quality of the shallow depth of field.  Plus, definitely pretty clean in terms of noise for a premium compact camera.

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.

↑Here’s a shot taken at 3200 ISO.  The settings were 3200 ISO f2.8 with the lens set at 34mm.

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.

↑ This was taken through a window.  The camera settings were 6400 ISO f3.2 with the lens set at 10.9mm.

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.

↑This shot was taken at 12,500 ISO 5.6 with the lens set at 10.9mm.

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.

↑ Here’s another example taken at 12,500 ISO.  The rest of the settings were f2.8 and 22mm for lens’ focal length.

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.

↑ Here’s an example at 25,000 ISO f2.8.  The lens was set at 23mm.

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.

↑ Here’s one more example at 25,000 ISO f2.8.  The lens was set at 34mm.

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.

Leica D-Lux 7 Pros And Cons:

Leica D-Lux 7 Pros:

  • Built well.
  • Beautifully designed.
  • Tactile controls that advanced photographers will appreciate.
  • In typical Leica fashion, straight forward in terms of overall layout and design.
  • Built-in EVF.
  • 4K video.
  • Quick autofocus.
  • Excellent image quality.
  • Decent high ISO images.
  • Compact all-in-one that’s great to carry with you anywhere.

Leica D-Lux 7 Cons:

  • A little slippery.
  • No flip display.
  • No built-in flash.
  • Zoom feels a little slow.

Leica D-Lux 7 Verdict:

For the days when you just don’t want to carry your big camera rigs but still want something that produces great images, and is versatile in terms of controls and functions, you’ll want a premium compact.  The Leica D-Lux 7 is a superb choice, and it would probably be my pick out of all the great models currently out right now.

↑ This was taken at 400 ISO f2.8.  The lens was set at 34mm.

↑ This was taken at 200 ISO f4 with the lens set at 21mm.

At $1,195, the D-Lux 7 is not cheap.  But then again, a lot of its competitors aren’t cheap now either.  The Sony RX100 VI sells for $1,198, and even the Panasonic LX 100II sells for $997.99.  If anything, one should also consider an interchangeable lens camera because in this price range, you could get a decent mirrorless set up, such as a Fuji X-T30 with say an XF 18-55mm for just $1,299.  The X-T30 will be better in versatility, and image quality too.  Of course, while the X-T30 is very compact, it’s not in the same class of camera.  It’s not an all-in-one premium point and shoot like the D-Lux 7 or any of its competitors, so it really isn’t even a fair comparison.  All I’m saying is you have a lot of choice in this price range.

↑This was taken at 800 ISO f5.6.  The lens was set at 10.9mm.

↑ This was taken at 320 ISO f2.8.  The lens’ focal length was 26mm.

For an all-in-one premium compact, I feel like the D-Lux 7 offers quite a lot.  It’s made well, it’s one heck of a beautiful looking camera, especially with that shiny silver, and even though it is technically a point and shoot, it has a lot of features an advanced photographer would want.  It has great tactile controls that in my opinion really sets it apart from its competitors, and the autofocus is quick.  It has a built-in EVF, and the image quality is excellent.  It even shoots RAW, so a photographer interested in really pushing their images has the ability to do so.  Bottom line is the D-Lux is a superb choice for the photographer who wants a all-in-one, go anywhere, premium compact.  I’d recommend it to anyone.

Thanks for taking the time to read my review!  If you’re considering purchasing the D-Lux 7, and my review helped you decide, please help support this site by purchasing from any of the links in this review.  It will not cost you anything extra.  Thank you for your support!

Leica D-Lux 7 at B&H Photo

32 comments… add one
  • inthedarkroom

    Amazing shots from a point-and-shoot! Your review covered all the bases.

    • Patrick

      Thanks inthedarkroom!

      Best,

      Patrick

  • I was amazed how your explanation of your first opinion about this tiny camera was quite like mine, particularly the fine sharp focus , and the hight standards of quality image . It Seems like a small full frame in a leica box sometimes for me , especially with great light conditions in street photography. Im a professional photographer who wanted something light and easy to hide , and thanks to that little sharp knife i made some shots inside Madrids Prado museum where is highly forbidden . What i surely like as you is the tactical mechanical use , really love that touch of retrò photography , in particular choosing to put iso function on the ring of focus to have all manual and perfectly in the hand . Incredible is at F4 the beautiful perfection of people on street environment , it is a really nice camera to have always with you , on sundays walks to capture best moments . I ‘ll do not recommend it for a trip in extreme conditions , better a fat reflex in that case like the old D300 .

    • Patrick

      I completely agree. It’s a very versatile camera that produces great image quality. It’s easy to carry around and be discreet with but at the same time, it offers mechanical controls that advanced photographers will appreciate. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment!

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Elderin

    Hi Patrick,

    i also find the D-Lux 7 very appealing. It is remarkable that not only the build, but also the image quality speaks Leica. Always a fan of the color scheme and overall visual impression.
    Could it be that the inside of the lens is black to prevent straylights ? I cant think of a lens that is not black inside. Or did i misunderstood something here ?

    • Patrick

      Hi Elderin,

      Good to hear from you. I don’t mean inside the lens; when you turn the camera on, the lens extends out. That part of the barrel that is extended (the outer portion) is what I’m talking about. When you look at the Gray Typ 109, that part of the barrel is silver as well. I hope this clears it up :). Thanks for stopping by!

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Elderin

    By the way i revisited your 50mm Summicron review because i now use this lens on the M10.
    It is the sharpest lens in my lineup and it renders beautifully on the M10. I mean it did on the M9 and M, too, but the sensor of the M10 is a perfect match. I believe the 50 cron would be great on the SL, too.
    Have you ever tried that ?

    • Patrick

      Hi Elderin,

      That Summicron is one of the best deals from Leica if you ask me. I still own mine because it was such a fantastic lens. I actually haven’t used my Cron on the SL yet though. However, now that you mentioned it, maybe I’ll go give it a try, and update my Summicron review :).

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Elderin

    Hi Patrick,

    you should do that.
    The results are so so good and quite different from what you get with an M9. I bet you will be surprised even though you already know that it is a very good lens. Have fun.
    Greetings, Elderin

    • Patrick

      Hi Elderin,

      I’ll try it when I get back from vacation. I know there are some that say it’s not aspherical or that it’s a 40 year old design but the optics are excellent…some of the best available. Maybe I can write something up as well. Should be fun :).

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Patrick Chan

    Hi Patrick,

    Thanks for writing a review on the lovely D-Lux 7! I have been waiting for your review & glad to see it finally came out. Besides the fast lens & build quality, the major factor that persuaded me to purchase the previous D-Lux 109 was the analog dials & controls. Sometimes I wish my lovely CL & the TL lenses are more analog! As the D-Lux 3 was your first ditigal camera, the D-Lux 109 was my first Leica camera. Despite having the same electronics as the Panasonic LX100, the jpeg color is different & it just feels better in the hands. If Leica didn’t come out with the CL, I would most likely get the new D-Lux 7. The D-Lux 109 introduced me to the Leica experience & it has been good so far. I am kind of hoping Leica will eventually come out with a smaller, full-frame interchangeable lens camera; similar to a Q2 that can change lenses & has both phase/contrast AF. I still need a full-frame camera for my landscape/nightscape & ocassional action work. I have been looking at the new Nikon Z7 as I have been a Nikon user since the film days. Well, enjoy your Caribbean vacation!

    • Patrick

      Hi Patrick!

      Thanks for taking the time to read my review, and apologies for the late reply! The internet wasn’t great. The Caribbean was incredible though…it was much needed, and thanks for the well wishes! I’m back now but I miss those beaches!!!

      The D-Lux Typ 109 is one of my favorite cameras. I had a grey one, and definitely regret trading it in a while back.

      The CL is another fantastic camera. In fact, I liked it so much, I didn’t want to send my review sample back. I found it worked great with M lenses too making it a nice alternative for those who may have difficulty focusing with an M camera. My uncle bought one recently, and even though I have my SL and love it, I have to admit that I am a bit jealous lol ;).

      I also agree with you that Leica should come out with a full-frame compact interchangeable lens mirrorless camera. But you should also give the SL a try :). It has become my favorite camera out of any camera that I’ve used, reviewed or owned. I use it on full shoots several times a week, and it’s one of the most reliable cameras that I’ve used so far. It’s also built like a tank, and the SL lenses are second to none. I seriously can not praise these lenses enough. I’ve only posted my 90mm SL review but have plans to post reviews for the rest of the lenses. Also, I recently tried the new Panasonic S1R and it’s pretty incredible. My guess is a lot of that tech will find its way into the new SL2 ;).

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by, Patrick! I hope to hear from you again soon!

      Best,

      Patrick

      • Patrick Chan

        Patrick, good to know you had a nice vacation!

        I did try the SL at one of the Leica stores in Tokyo two years ago. I was blown away by how good the EVF is and also surprised how light the SL is. However, all the SL lenses are big and heavy; also the SL still uses contrast AF. My main areas of photography are landscape/nightscape with some wildlife and action, and travel with a mixed of B&W, environmental portrait and cultural scene. My CL meets my needs nicely on the latter part, especially with M-mount lenses for B&W & portrait. I hike and sometimes climb a lot when doing landscape work, the SL lenses are just too big and heavy for me; in a similar way so do the new Panasonic S1R and its lenses. I used my CL at a concert in HK last summer, the contrast AF just couldn’t keep up in action shots.

        I will be on vacation to Asia soon, I have signed up for seminars/workshops in HK and Bangkok; and a 4-day photo tour at scenic Guilin/Yangshuo in China. I will really put my mind and CL to work this time! Take care and talk to you later.

        Yours Truly,
        Patrick

      • Patrick

        Hi Patrick,

        Yes, the SL lenses are very large lol. The body is okay like you said but the glass is heavy. You should give the S1R a try though. The AF is really, really good, at least with my initial testing. I’m assuming that the tech will go into the next SL. Also, the Panny lenses are a lot lighter than I thought they would be. I tried the zoom on the CL actually :).

        I hope you have a great time in Asia! Get a lot of great pics! I haven’t been to Hong Kong in years…would love to go again soon :). Take care and talk to you soon!

        Best,

        Patrick

  • Patrick,

    Thanks — I always look forward to reading your reviews!

    Quick background: I spent six weeks being dragged around my spouse’s old stomping grounds in Japan (she lived there for five years). Always on the go; I took the D-Lux 6 Typ 109 and am so glad I did — always with me, incredibly versatile whether we were inside a temple or in the bright sunlight. Only a couple of times I misssed having a bit longer lens. The flippie sde is that the 6 fit easily in my purse (as there’s always discussion of camera bags, I think we need to expand to include purses: this was the Ghurka Marley Hodgson 🙂

    Leading up to a question about the 7: many a time I’ve pulled great details from the shadows with the 6 at low ISO; I assumed it was the relatively large pixels on the sensor. The 7 has a greater density of pixels; I wonder how well it handles shadows?

    And a remark: wishing for a longer lens, I tried the Fujiyama 2.5x Teleconverter for the 6/7. You have to shoot at f2.8, though. In the center 1/3 of the frame, it’s remarkable; sharp as you could want, beautiful. Unfortunately, it falls off drastically after that, so I’d conclude it has a place, but only a limited one.

    Which leads up to the wishlist, especially after reading your reviews of the Pana-Leica lenses and the GX85. I wish I wish we could have the Digilux 6/7 body with the interchangeable lenses made by Pana-Leica. I wouldn’t trade in my M240, but I think I’d really have a lot of fun with that combo.

    See what your reviews did? sent me off the a happy camera fantasy land 🙂

    Best Regards,

    Kathy

    • Patrick

      Hi Kathy!

      It’s so nice to hear from you, and thanks for taking the time to read it! Apologies for the late reply. How’ve you been?

      I remember you mentioning Japan the last time we spoke :). 6 weeks…wow, that’s incredible :). I used to have an old girlfriend that lived there, and I remember visiting her for a whole month one time. I didn’t want to leave after :).

      Unfortunately, I did not do a comparison between the 7 and the Typ 109. The 7 was a loaner, and I had traded my Typ 109 in a while back, so it’s been a while since I’ve shot with it. With all that said, I shot with the D-Lux 7, and I didn’t once feel like anything was missing when compared to the Typ 109. I shoot in RAW all the time, and was very happy with the flexibility of the files. Yes, the 7 does have a greater density of pixels but it’s also about four years newer, and you know how fast tech evolves these days. If you’re considering trading in your Typ 109 for the 7 but maybe are also considering entering a new system (you mention the Digilux), it might just be worth it for you to keep your Typ 109, if you’re happy with it. The 7 is a great camera; there’s no doubt about that, and it is much improved but at the same time, I feel that the Typ 109 is good enough that if you wanted to, you could keep it for longer.

      This leads me to the Digilux topic :). Have you ever considered a CL? It’s not quite as versatile as say the X-T3 but it definitely has its own charms. Quite frankly, I’m in love with the camera, and I’ve wanted one since I reviewed it a while back but I can’t keep buying into more systems lol. I mention it to you because it’s compact, it’s an APS-C camera, it’s L mount, which means you can attach a bunch of different lenses to it, and you can use your existing M lenses (the CL works amazingly well with M lenses). Speaking of lenses, the ones for this system are superb. I’m currently reviewing the 55-135mm TL lens (on a loaner CL, which I don’t want to return), and it’s phenomenal. Lastly, the camera is compact.

      Also, that teleconverter sounds really cool. My brother in law owned an X1 a long time ago, and I forgot where he got the parts but he made some sort of teleconverter for it as well. It worked pretty good :).

      Great pics too btw! Thanks for sharing them. I love that train pic with the older gentleman sleeping :).

      Best,

      Patrick

  • It’s good to be back reading your reviews again. Actually after a long day, much better than a drink. Can cost more in the long run tho.

    So if I understand this, you went to Tokyo to see a girlfriend, then hung out exploring Tokyo together for a month. I can see how that’d leave a lasting impression. You do know some people might possibly be jealous, right?

    The pic of the sleepy gentleman on the train: the one I didn’t take was a young, attractive well-dressed woman lying in an alley early Sunday morning. We checked to make sure she was OK, but an older woman told us she was passed out from drinking too much the previous night, and she just slept where she fell. Sad but there is a strong drinking culture.

    Yes, my Leica journey did start with a Digilux 2, but then I made the big mistake of handling an M8 at an Austin store. What can I say?

    With the M8 and a summicrom 50, I wanted something a little lighter (with somewhat less expensive lenses); tried the Olympus Pen F, Fun, great selection of lenses — but I just cannot do PASM after doing M8.

    I’d been reading your CL material — honestly I can’t believe you give so much to your readers. And I have read that Leica’s L mount lenses are some of the very best around. But when I saw a minty M240 for around the same price — exit M8, enter M240.

    It’s keeping me busy: because of the M8 crop factor, I find I don’t really know what a 50mm frame is really like! I’m having to learn framing & composition all over again. Back to basics …..

    I think I’ll take your advice tho, keep the D-Lux 6 Typ109 until the 8 0r 9 introduces something spectacular.

    Best Regards,
    Kathy

    • Patrick

      Hi Kathy,

      Apologies for the late response! I wrote you a reply, and thought I sent it but I didn’t.

      Yes, I went exploring around Japan with my girlfriend at the time haha. It was actually a spontaneous trip; it was planned last minute, and I didn’t even know I was going to spend that much time there but I did. It was probably my most memorable trip anywhere. A lot of fun, and I got to see so many things. Surprisingly, while I took my camera with me, I didn’t even use it.

      So, you’re up to an M240 now, huh? That’s nice. I had the M240 for a long time. The 50mm Summicron is one of Leica’s best lenses as well. It’s ultra sharp, and easy to focus. I’ve own the Lux version for a while now but I can’t bring myself to ever sell my Cron. It was actually the first Leica lens that I bought.

      My Leica journey started when I was quite young…I was around 12. I was really into photography, and when my great uncle passed, he left his M3 to my dad. My dad was big into Leica as well, so he sent the M3 back to Leica to get it CLA’ed, and gave it to me to shoot with along with loaning me his 50 Cron. He already had an M6, so the M3 would’ve just sat there, if I didn’t use it. I shot with that set up for years non-stop. Seeing that I was so serious about photography, my dad would occasionally let me use his other lenses or even his M6 but basically, I used the Cron and M3 most of the time. It’s probably why the 50mm focal length is still my favorite type of lens lol.

      Anyway, I was able to save up money in college to buy myself an M6. The only lens that I could afford was the 50 Cron…well, it was between that or the 50mm Elmar, which I thought was so cool because it collapsed. Ultimately, I’m glad I ended up with the Cron because it’s optically a much better lens. However, the Elmar is one of my most desired lenses. Every time I go to Japan, it’s the only lens I look for :). I can’t bring myself to buy one, since I don’t need another 50mm. I just like looking at it, and dreaming of the day I might own it :).

      As for the CL, if you’re ever in the market for a smaller, autofocus camera, it is really good. The lenses are amazing.

      I can definitely understand you needing some time to get used to a 50mm after the M8. Just shoot as much as you can, and if anything, you can always crop a bit. In the end, you’ll still have more resolution than what you got from the M8 :).

      The D-Lux Typ 109 is definitely not out of date or anything. These days, cameras are so good that I believe you can keep them for longer. Maybe invest in a 75mm for your M, since that might give you a focal length closer to what you got with your M8 and 50mm ;). Have a great day!

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Apologies in return — grading final exams eats my soul, so I go offline.

    I think I can understand your first Japan trip. Spouse always says ‘pick any direction, start walking: you’ll see things you’ve never seen before’. You submerge & might never come up for air. You had the added benefit of romance.

    I’d probably skip taking photos if I didn’t have a voice in my ear saying ‘alwayscarryacamera.’ That’s what I love about the Typ 109 — fits in my ourse, or I can carry it in my hand for hours and hours.

    The main reason tho is that it operates just like my M cameras. I picked it up and knew exactly how to get what I wanted (well, not quite: manual focus is focus by wire, so there’s always a small overshoot. And once, taking a pic of Fuji-san from the shinkansen, I forgot I could push it to 1/16000 a second.)

    I’ve also gazed at the CL with lust in my heart. And seen those fantastic shots from your reviews. And And read of the ultra-high resolution of those next-gen lenses.

    What stopped me was an experience with m43 Olympus Pen F. I had fun with it and all those ‘free’ lenses (compared to Leica anyway) but I definitely did not have fun setting aperture by wire. I also loaned the camera to a friend; when I got it back everyhting had been reset & I had no idea how to use it. Ebay!

    I look at CL lenses and ask ‘so where the aperture ring, then?’ 🙂 🙂

    Your story about growing up with the Leica was really wonderful to read. Looks like your Dad was a very big influence on your life. Happy father’s day, then.

    But — You must know that phrase ‘born with a silver spoon in his mouth’ to mean ‘born to a wealthy family. So you were born with a Leica in your hand.

    But — and thanks for your advice on the M240 — just having a Leica doesn’’t make you a photographer. Looks like you put in decades of work to get where you are. No shortcuts — take photos, think about what you see. Take more photos.

    And remember this is supposed to be fun 🙂
    Best Regards,

    Kathy

    • Patrick

      Hi Kathy,

      I am so sorry for taking so long to get back to you! My site went down due to my hosting service having a mechanical failure, so I was offline for a few weeks.

      I wished I took pictures during that trip to Japan. I think I could’ve gotten some nice shots since my girlfriend at the time lived there. At that time, instead of using the D-Lux, I would’ve used the Minilux, since, if I recall correctly, there weren’t any digital cameras yet (wow, I feel old haha). I did own a Minilux btw, and loved it. The image quality was so good. I wish I never sold it.

      As for the Pen-F, yes, that camera can be difficult to figure out…mainly the menu system. I remember when I first got it, I couldn’t find how to even set the camera to RAW files (I was on the street at the time, so I didn’t have the instructions with me). So, I can definitely understand what you mean :).

      That’s one thing I do like about Leica cameras though. The menu systems are simple and direct, and all the cameras in general have some similarities whether it’d be controls or menu system. So, like you said, it’s not hard to go from your M to your D-Lux for instance. Even when I went from my M 240 to my SL, it wasn’t that bad. Yes, there are differences but it was pretty easy to figure out the SL. I didn’t even read the manual.

      I also know what you mean about the aperture ring. I grew up with M cameras, and other cameras I used during the film era all had aperture rings. It was something I had to get used to when I switched to the SL BUT you can always use M lenses on the SL and CL :). Still, it is something I do miss on my SL lenses.

      My dad was a big influence on my life. We like a lot of the same things that’s for sure :).

      As for the M3, I was very lucky to have had a chance to use that camera, and as you say, born with a Leica in my hand haha. I learned so much from that camera. At that time, the M3 was literally collecting dust and aging because no one had used it for decades. It actually was less money to get it CLA’d by Leica than to buy a kit camera at the time, so I was very lucky. My dad had a bunch of his own M lenses, and he was a user. The only lens that he never really used was his 50 Summicron, and it just so happens to be the widest lens that you can attach to the M3 without an external viewfinder. All the other lenses that my great uncle had looked absolutely new externally but because of the decades of storage, none of the glass was clean.

      That camera taught me everything. It was completely manual, so that meant not only did I have to adjust exposure and manually focus, I had to learn about lighting, since there wasn’t even a built in meter. I also had to learn how to make the most of it with one lens. I was young, there was no way I could afford to buy myself another with Leica prices lol, so I shot with the 50mm Summicron all those years. I guess it’s why the 50mm is still my most used focal length. I definitely was much more skilled in those days than now though haha. Nowadays, I depend too much on those electronics :).

      The M3 is something that I know I will never get rid of no matter what. It was my great uncle’s, and my dad had a hand in getting it back to good condition. It was my constant companion for years. It helped me learn photography, and grow this passion for it. It helped me grow a passion for Leica products. I’ve had offers, and it’s not a special edition or anything. To me though, it’s priceless.

      And thanks for reminding me this is all supposed to be fun :). I don’t know if you have Instagram or not but if you do, look me up. A lot of my new work is up there, and the reason I’m mentioning this is because for the last year, I’ve made a big switch to do more portraits/fashion/boudoir photography. I love the new switch; it’s so exciting in many ways but at the same time, it was a ton of work in the beginning (at one point I was doing two to three shoots per week, and I have to edit after). I’m still playing catch up to be honest. Once in a while I forget it is supposed to be fun lol.

      I hope to hear from you soon, and I hope you’ve been enjoying the summer!

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Hey, Patrick,

    I wondered why your site never loaded — I thought maybe my router speed. I’ve been reading about photographers who lost their entire stock in a fire, or WWII bombing. Or Vivian Maier at the garage sale. And here I complain about your site being down.

    I confess I had performance anxiety shooting in Japan: it just seemed how could I do anything that wasn’t trite & been done a million times. I got over it — I think being jet-lagged gave me that extra ‘who cares’ I needed.

    Got to admit the Minilux is cute — and you they’re cheap on ebay. It’s just — as with so much retro equipment — I bet the modern Fujifilm cameras are gonna be ten times better, alas without the memories. Still, look at the M3 must bring up ‘Wow, we had some amazing times together.’

    On going from M240 to SL — I wonder if the CL wasn’t like the training wheel version? I confess I had a fling with a Nikon D610 — more like a one-night stand — before I realized: too big, too bulky, too heavy. Much as I like what I see of the SL and those incredible lenses, I’m not woman enough to handle it. Though Nikon left behind a bunch of little lenses — like the Nikkor 105mm f2.5 — which are still remarkable on the M240.

    Growing up with the M3 and no light metering — you did learn the hard way, though I suspect that kind of discipline is what it means to become a professional. Tho I don’t have the years or the discipline, I’m beginning to get a feeling just by looking at hte light what the aperture I want is going to be.

    It is amazing how one lens can influence your whole career. On an M8, the 50mm is more like 70, and when I look through my D-Lux 109 pix, with all the focal lengths I could have, 95% are 70mm. I wonder if it’s like muscle memory — I know this focal length, I know what it can do, how to frame it. All of which doesn’t stop me from looking longingly at 28’s and 35’s.

    The whole ‘this is supposed to be fun’ probably doesn’t work so well since you do this professionally. I went to college in the 60’s so I could go all new age about it. Maybe doing what you did — switching to a whole new area — helps keep the passion and the fun alive. Except for the part about editing several hundred photos a week. Aren’t you glad you’re not using a 54 megapixel camera? Comes with free supercomputer.

    Thanks for the Instagram tip — and you very kindly have a link, or I would never have got there. Checking it let me find the range of of your work (no I’m not sorry; someone had to say it). Is the boudoir work most with women who want a professional photo for their bf (or gf in my case)? Or is there a mix of models what want something in their portfolios?
    If it’s non-model work, do you have to help them about posing?

    It’s all very odd to me (as in my wife telling one person ‘No, Kathy is not going to do a show for you. There is nothing she would hate more.’) Spouse & I were walking in the fashionable shopping area of town when I said, ‘Look at that women. I bet you anything she’s a model’ And she kind of looked at me and said, ‘Uh, honey? That’s Lisette, our next-door neighbor.’ (who actually was a model before becoming an M.D.)

    Somehow, the person got swallowed up by the model. Does that ever happen in your work?

    Cheers!

    Kathy

    • Patrick

      Hi Kathy,

      It’s great to hear from you, and yes, it’s just been a crazy summer.

      I get that same anxiety all the time lol. Every time I shoot, I feel like it’s been done a million times. There was a point when I was doing more reviews that it just felt so repetitive. I felt like I was shooting the same stuff over and over. It’s one reason why I went more towards portraits. You’re always meeting new people, and everyone has their own style, their own poses. If I’m doing street shooting, I usually go out with a friend. He was actually one of the readers here, and we became friends over time because he lives in NYC as well. Anyway, I find it actually makes me more creative because I guess it makes me see through his eyes. Plus, it’s just more fun, and I think when I’m more relaxed, I get better pics :). You’re welcomed to come along, if you’re ever in NYC!

      I haven’t kept up with the prices of the Minilux but if it’s cheap, you should go for one! The images were as good as what came out of my M6 at the time. Yes, the M3 always brings up great memories. If I were to buy another film camera though, I’d probably for for a Mamiya 6 again. I had one in the old days, and that was such a great camera. Medium format, rangefinder, compact, and great images. Quiet too because of the leaf shutter. With 12 shots, it really makes you think before you shoot. Some of what I think are my best photos were shot with that camera.

      I can definitely understand what you mean about the SL. Summers are not easy carrying around even just the body and 50mm Lux-SL lol. There is something that will always be special to me about the M. I can’t justify both for myself right now but maybe in the future, I’d like to have one again. It would probably be the Monochrom though. Love that camera. Have you tried it?

      As for learning without a meter, I couldn’t meter with just my eyes, if my life depended on it now haha. It’s like my lessons with French. I took 8 years, and I barely remember a thing haha.

      As for focal lengths, I always say just pick whatever you’re most comfortable with. There are certain “rules”. But those rules are flexible, if you ask me. For instance, I see some fantastic portraits where people use a 35mm or even a 24mm lens. I’m a 50mm guy, and I use it for nearly everything. I know a 35mm is more common but for some reason, I’m not as comfortable with one but I don’t mind something as wide as 18mm. Still, I look longingly at a 35mm sometimes too haha. Recently, I’ve been looking at lenses with a more classic bokeh. I ended up reading about the older version of the 35mm Voigtlander f1.4. So, I got the version 2 in to review (be up soon), and now I want one for myself haha. Also reviewing the 90mm Summarit, and writing an article about the 75mm Summilux (if you like lenses around this focal range, you HAVE to take a look at this lens), so you see? I haven’t abandoned the M system completely :).

      As for this being fun, it definitely still is. There are moments when it’s not so fun. Sometimes a person gets mad when you don’t agree with them on this site haha or a shoot just didn’t go that well, and you still have to edit the pics. But overall, I get to meet new people all the time, my office is either at home or out on the streets of NYC, and I get to create new things whether good or bad haha. Don’t think I didn’t try not to go down this path. I tried very hard to go a more traditional route. I’m a person that values stability, and consistency. I went to a high school that concentrated on the arts, so my thing was really sculpting. I got into most of my colleges that way but I quickly jumped to more traditional majors. After that, I went through tons of schooling for things that had absolutely nothing to do with photography. But at the end, I just was not happy. I’m definitely not that young anymore haha but there’s still a part of me that considers going back to something more traditional sometimes. I don’t know why. My parents actually felt like I shouldn’t have gone down the more traditional path because they knew I wouldn’t be happy, so it’s not like I felt pressured.

      As for the model work, it’s so different nowadays, at least from what I experience. Most of the models I’ve dealt with want it for their own Instagram or portfolio. For instance, I work with one who is currently looking to get agency represented, so she’s looking for a range of different stuff from fashion to boudoir. Some models will only do one type of genre. I have some for instance that will do fashion but no boudoir. Some will do swimsuit, fashion, athletic but no boudoir or boudoir but no swimwear lol. If it’s non model work, you have to help them with the poses sometimes. Some models are so naturally talented that I don’t even say anything. I don’t want to ruin the fluidity of the shoot. I know some people are really particular about poses but I’m not; I’m more trying to capture something a little more natural but that’s just me. I have so many more pics but I haven’t posted them. I don’t know why; my friends say I should :).

      Overall though, the shoots are very professional. We’re both there with the main purpose of getting pics. Even with the boudoir shoots, you don’t really think of it as a girl in lingerie, for instance. We’re both there to create a look, and that’s just part of it. With all that said, we still have a lot of fun. A lot of food is usually involved too :).

      My brain must not be working well, today haha, what do you mean by swallowed up by the model?

      The thing that I have to do right now though is really get back to this site. I tend to dive into things wholeheartedly, and I did that with the portrait stuff; it left me less time for this site but this Fall will be different. Have a bunch of posts coming up, and I’m going to stay consistent :)! Leica stuff too ;).

      Btw, it’s great to see your website! Thanks for including it. Your spouse lived in Japan for 6 years??? So lucky. I told you I went back last year right? I can’t even look at the pics without feeling a little depressed that I’m not there now haha.

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Yo, Patrick,

    Tokyo, lenses, modeling: quite a collection.

    You sound like spouse, with a daily ‘I miss Tokyo’ What we’re doing is going to YouTube and watching NIPPON WANDERING TV. This guy has an Osmo Pocket, which is 3D stabilized, and he wanders. Our area last trip was Shinjuku, we also did a bunch around Marunouchi, Nihonbashi & Ginza, so it’s fun seeing places we’ve been, Of course, then we pass a tendnon place, and get hungry; then everything is worse! Tho in NYC you could probably find something. In Austin, TX — nai. But — try the YouTube. See if it helps.

    I’d conflated your 1997/1998 trips into one, and I’m *really* glad you reminded me of the photos. The 21mm Leica Summilux opened my eyes to a whole new world — I thought 21mm would be all landscape stuff. Seriously — I have a whole new view of what these lenses can do!!! So serious thanks.

    Like you, I probably won’t be picking up the Leica — I retire in 2020, so a drop in income. Also we will return to Japan after the Olympics (spouse is serious about this) ; this time it will be 2months not six weeks. And the SE Asian equivalent of airbnb was a bit of a — ok it was a real disaster (tho a year later it has all kinds of funny stories, like when the police wanted to come in to see if our neighbors were dead. Then there was NHK film crew …). So — something more expensive.

    Which means I’ll be looking more 7Artisans 35mm, maybe their new 75. Than Leica. And I really appreciate getting your 7Artisans reviews — almost no-one is doing that. Tho — it feels like trading a Lexus for a bicycle 🙁

    You are lucky, to forget your business and walk around with a friend and a camera. Love to join you, but I hope to trade incredibly pricey Austin homes for a house in the forests of Washington State. That ought to give me a something very different on my OVF.

    I was surprised to hear your concern about ‘can I do this?’ Then I realized I’d been teaching about 35 years, dreading the beginning of each semester, before I picked myself up by the ears, shook me, and said ‘You been doing this 35 years. Do you really think there’s a situation you haven’t seen? can’t handle?’

    About your switch to models: so that means you have to maintain a safe changing room, and then a studio. Isn’t that a bit pricey in NYC? I bring it up because Spouse just closed down her physical office — all her profits were going to the landlord. Online from now on — which you can’t exploit!

    We talked about guessing the aperture — yeah, I can see that with professional work, you have to nail the shot. I’d read your reviews of the M240 (thanks again!) and I see you changed your mind about the EVF. So do you use that or light meters?

    If friends & colleagues have been encouraging you to post more photos, and it doesn’t interfere with your business .. then do it. People react so differently to a photo, and you never know what they’ll think. It’s like — if you know the Shakira song Estoy Aqui (or very unlikely Ferron Our Purpose Here). I like ballads with great beauty and a slight sadness. I picked out a couple of photos in your Instagram that gave me that feeling.

    Tho I bet the ‘come hither’ shots get a lot more likes 🙂 🙂

    Click!

    Kathy

    • Patrick

      The ‘come hither’ look hahaha :).

      In terms of the models, I have an apartment that I used to live in, and when I decided to do this, I took everything out of it, which gave me a lot of open space. So, that’s what I use for a studio. It also has roof access, and stuff like that, so it’s pretty cool. It terms of changing and privacy, there’s definitely space for that :).

      As for the EVF, I don’t remember what I said in my M 240 review but I imagine I said I preferred the OVF, right haha? I have definitely changed my mind over the years. At least I’m honest about it :). At the time, EVFs weren’t as good. Now, some of these EVFs are amazing. The SL’s for example, is so detailed, and it’s so easy to see through because of the 0.8x magnification. I do everything through it: I meter using it (I can see the histogram in the EVF), and I even review my images through it.

      If you’re looking for a 35mm, I’d highly suggest this Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 version 2 I’ve been testing. I absolutely LOVE this lens. I’m thinking about buying it myself. There’s so much character to it, and the bokeh is quite amazing. It’s also very sharp. I’m hoping to get my review out next week, if you’d like to read it. I wrote a first impressions post of it recently. I don’t know what the current price is for the 7artisan but I imagine the Voigtlander is more; however, it’s no where near the price of the Leica version lol. The build is also really good; quite honestly, it feels a lot like a Leica lens when I’m shooting with it.

      As for the 7artisan 75mm, I’m going to see if I can get one in to review next; I’m hoping to be done with the 35 Voigtlander and Summarit this week, so it’s either the 7artisans or the new 75mm Voigtlander that I’m going to see if I can get…maybe I can get both at the same time. Would be kind of cool to do a comparison for fun. I’m curious about the 7artisans too…definitely cheaper than the Noctilux version haha. I’m just wondering if I can focus it. I still have trouble with my 75mm Lux haha.

      As for forgetting my business and walking around with my friend, I sometimes wish I could haha but it’s actually part of it. Don’t get me wrong; I love doing it but whenever I get new gear in to review, I have to use it. I also don’t like to review something by just playing with it a little or taking pics around my neighborhood. I want to actually use it because I feel like if someone is going to take the time to read anything I review, I should at least try to give that person a good review or something where I tried my best :).

      I actually don’t watch many videos about Japan because when I do, I really miss it haha. I don’t know what it is about Japan…well, I actually do; it’s a beautiful place, and I have great memories too from it. I love the food too. The last time I went, I had a pork katsu that was so incredible, I haven’t even eaten any here because I know I won’t be able to find one that good haha. I’d like to live there one day; probably not forever. I’ve lived in NYC all my life, and it’s hard to think of anywhere else as home at this point. But it would be nice to live there for a short period of time :). By the way, there are so many great Japanese restaurants here, especially for tendon ;).

      The 21mm is a great focal length, and I find it excellent for street. I think it’s because I live in a really crowded city. No matter where I am, whether it’s on the train, the sidewalk or dinner, it’s always crowded haha, so I naturally feel more comfortable with something like a 21mm than say a 35mm because everything is always so close to me. In fact, there was a point in time when my most used lenses were a 50mm and an 18mm. Since I switched to models, I haven’t really used the 18mm (I’m tempted to trade it in for something else) but there was a time when it was my everyday lens. Funny thing is now, I’m using my 50 and 90 mostly so, when I use a wider lens, it’s not as easy.

      And as for my photos, I know they are meant for sharing but I can be very personal with them with them sometimes haha. Weird that a photographer would say that ;).

      Btw, I actually have a shoot on Friday where we’re going to experiment with more “come hither” looks haha,

      Best,

      Patrick

  • ‘come hither’ — well, it’s a more polite term than the one we use on four-inch heels. More seriously, I was taken aback about experimenting with more looks. I thought they had it pretty well down! But then I remembered an M8 review by James Russell (not the other one) “Models of this level are artists in their own right, and locking them down to one single pose or idea is wrong. They move, they bend, they express, they inspire me and the rest of the crew into seeing things that any pre determined plan could not imagine.”

    That is — if you want to be a pro, you work at it. And here’s one from Russel James, says much what you said earlier: “Opposite to what many may think, the last thing you want on set is to create any type of a sexualized environment. I have found the results are about equal with how much shared fun and enthusiasm was had on set. The mood is set up by everyone involved with the shoot from the stylist, hair and make-up artists, set designers, and, of course, the models themselves. The more you can create a cool and safe environment, the better the photographs will be.”

    You know, I’m a professor of mathematics; the world of modeling is like a alien planet. Though one year a student asked to take an exam late; she said she had to be in Houston for a shoot. That one shoot would pay her tuition for the whole year.

    It’s possible I may have chosen the wrong profession 🙂

    Thanks for the tip on the Voigtlander. I keep hearing about them being the ugly sister of Zeiss, but I actually used a Voigtlander 21mm on my M8. Looking back on those photos, the lens was great. I did check out your quick review, and the 35 looks good.

    BTW on ruining your weekends with photo shoots that turn out to be reviews: I really appreciate a reviewer who doesn’t just go to the living room & shoot their dog. That didn’t come out right. I get to see how the lens will be actually used — there’s no substitute for that.

    I understand a bit about your photos being for you — 99.9% of mine are for me and will stay that way. Often what I post is ‘here’s something unexpected’ or also ‘here’s a good way I screwed up.’

    On the other hand, hanging out on the LFI site seems to me a great way to learn: “I love that shot. Now why and how did the photo work and can I do that?” Or, like I said with your 21mm review: ‘wow! So that’s why people use that lens!’ It’s been an education.

    I think my wife’s playing Japanese videos is part of her secret plot to get me back there. The people she used to hang with kind of took charge of us this time, in particular I was told that I MUST have tonkatsu because it is an experience you can only have in Japan, and anyway Japanese pork is better and healthier than American. Anyway, after all the help they gave us, I told the couple I wanted to take them out for a nice fish dinner on my birthday. Did that ever not happen. We were taken in a cab to a place on Tokyo bay, we don’t even know where, and we had omakase. It was one of those places where there are only ten seats and we were quite a hit with the locals, who apparently never seen gaikokojin at their restaurant.

    As we left, after 18 courses, spouse said to me “I’ve been kicked up to an entirely new level. I never realized food could be like this.”

    Enjoy your weekend with scantily-clad models 🙂 🙂 Which isn’t as sarcastic as it sounds: one of the most fun things in doing math is working with other professionals at the same level. So, that kind of fun.

    Best Regards,

    Kathy

    • Patrick

      Hi Kathy,

      It’s so nice to hear from you. Yes, when I meet up for a shoot, most of the time, it’s all experimental. Some of the models are a little surprised by this but the ones I work with a lot know the way I shoot. I just ask them to come over for a few hours, and just shoot. I’ll bounce off ideas with the model and vice versa. Sometimes, it works out great, sometimes it doesn’t but you can’t grow without trying new things. Also, I don’t like to really place too much control over a shoot; I think the model needs the freedom to do what makes her feel comfortable as well.

      And in terms of a safe environment, you’re right. The more people are comfortable with each other, the better the photos. First off, you both want to be there, which is very important :). Second, a lot of this isn’t easy for a model. A little vulnerability is involved. I’m happy to say that we usually have a lot of fun during shoots. I’ve had models say it’s more of a hang out than really shooting, which is what I want.

      As for choosing the wrong profession, I wish I could be a model haha. But being the photographer is quite fun. Honestly, this is probably the most fun I’ve had in photography. Unfortunately, I’ve neglected my blog for the past year, and I’m paying for it now but as you can see, I’m starting to get back into my blog, and I’m slowly also adding the model shoot element into it as well. So, it’s a lot of work but it’s also quite fun and rewarding at times.

      I wasn’t a fan of Voigtlander for a while after a couple of lenses I used a long time ago but the last few I’ve used are really nice. I’m using the new 75mm f1.5 now, and it is amazing. This is a lens you have to check out. Easy to use, small, and beautiful bokeh.

      I really appreciate what you said about me using the gear I review. I really do. I think that’s the true way to really know if something is good or not. Test charts or pictures of signs don’t tell the whole story. Unfortunately, it does slow me down when reviewing, and I was told I’d be better off just going through the gear more quickly because my site will grow faster but I don’t know, I just think if someone is going to spend the time reading my reviews, I could at least try to give them a perspective that I think is better (if this makes sense…I haven’t slept much in the last few days haha). I could be completely wrong but at least I tried :).

      Photos are very personal to me. The first photo I ever sold was to an accounting firm, who basically wanted the rights to the jpeg. They were very nice, and a pleasure to deal with but I felt like a piece of my soul was being taken haha. It was difficult believe it or not :). I didn’t even put anything up for sale. They found it on my website from one of my reviews, and emailed me about it. So, I wasn’t expecting to sell anything at the time.

      One of the best ways to grow as a photographer is to definitely look at other people’s work. It’s similar to traveling; you really grow a lot traveling because you get to see out of your bubble. I have tons of books. I’ll look at a photographer, and I’ll be like, “I can’t believe I never thought of that” haha. It’s always great to see through another perspective. The current photographer I’m obsessed with now is Sante D’Orazio. His fashion work is so awesome. I was also a huge Eisenstaedt fan too. One of the best photographers ever in my opinion.

      You should also go out there and just experiment. It’s very easy to get locked into a certain method or a way of thinking. It definitely happens to me a lot. But I always try to force myself to experiment, and do things that don’t necessarily follow the rules. It’s how we grow, and become better photographers. Try different angles or lighting. Try using a different focal lengths.

      The tonkatsu is amazing in Japan haha…best I’ve ever had. I still have the photos of a piece of pork from my last trip on my phone :). Food in Japan is incredible. We have decent Japanese food in NYC but it’s not the same. My favorite thing to eat in Japan is vending machine soba haha. It’s usually the first thing I eat when I go to Japan :).

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Knowing you use your old apartment as a studio explains a lot (I hope it’s rent controlled!). Those great backlit window shots of models, and the “urban” look to some of the portraits. It leads to a unique style.

    EVF/OVF — I confess, that moving from the Pen F and Leica Typ 109, to the M240 was a shock — it was hard for me to understand how a world-class camera could have such a low-budget EVF. I did eventually get the hang of how to use it: do the first focus with the rangefinder OVF, then use the EVF for any fine adjustments. But I also play with some classic Nikkor lenses and EVF, and I still have trouble getting spot-on focus.

    And here comes the confession: for my job, I do a lot of mathematical typesetting, which is done in a mark-up language. This means two windows open all the time, and the occasional third window to look up references. A couple of years ago, I treated myself to a (used) Apple 30″ Cinema display, with the (used) MacPro to drive it.

    I think you can guess what happens next: pixel-peeping, a bad habit I’m trying to quit 🙂 And there the difference in focus becomes really clear — as does the difference between a Leica and a Nikkor lens.

    Solution: stop with the peeping & just enjoy the image 🙂

    I’ve read of the EVF on the Q2and the SL (and their lenses). Right now my retirement account and I disagree about another camera.

    Cheers,

    Kathy

    • Patrick

      You know, it’s funny because I get messaged all the time from models wanting to shoot at my place because of the urban look :). It really works out for me but unfortunately, I have too many pics from my place now haha.

      As for the EVF, do you use focus peaking? The one on the M isn’t quite as good as say the Fuji or Sony but it does help a lot. I know I probably shouldn’t say this but they should just make the M mirrorless haha. Yes, I know, the classic rangefinder focusing is important but imagine how much easier it would be to use? Also, no more calibration issues either.

      I’ve become a pixel peeper hahaha. It’s hard not to be in this age. The gear is getting better and better. The computer systems (like your 30 inch screen, which I’m super jealous) are getting better. It’s always a constant struggle to not be one, at least for me. I’ve junked photos that were good but were off in terms of sharpness. I’m not totally crazy about it but one thing that annoyed me about the M was when I focused someone’s eyes, it was off focus.

      Have you ever thought of a used Q? One of my readers actually bought a demo from Leica. He ended up getting it for a good price. The Q is an amazing camera. I was thinking about getting a used one or demo. Right now though, just waiting for SL2 although, this is the first time where I’m actually considering keeping my SL instead of trading it in. I’ve never used a camera so much, and honestly, I’ve bonded with it. I know its quirks, and its strengths. It’s been super dependable. It’s a little sad to trade it in :).

      I hope you have great end of the weekend, Kathy.

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Hey, Patrick!

    You remarked that a lot of your work with models is experimental. I’ve looked at one or two workshops, and what they mostly do is — walk around and shoot. I guess that just being yourself is the best way to learn — modeling or photography.

    Not so much for calculus.

    It’s interesting to hear that your models say the shoots are more like hanging out, because many of the shots (not the lingerie) do look like young women just hanging out, in clothes they’d normally wear — or on a date or a club.

    Which kind of makes sense, as well as wanting that urban look you do so well. Hang-out clothes for young women is a really big business, and looking good in them might get them that job. And urban seetings are where a lot of women live, across the world. So maybe what your women are doing makes economic sense for their portfolio.

    Sante D’Orazio and Eisenstaedt look like they’re separated by a century: Hepbern’s pants suit morphing into total nudity — tho as I recall Cartier-Bresson was doing a lot of nude work. I’m not really a visual person, so seeing the visual language these greats use really stretches me. I’d been reading about Robert Franck recently too . . . again figuring out what he was doing. I have to say, though, that D’Orazio is very challenging and really uncomfortable.

    Then there’s fun. You know, until they go to school, kids like learning new things, and I think it’s the same with us. And you really do get to hang out, word, talk, work – what a great job.

    The vulnerability of models you mentioned interests me. I have never understood how a woman could be so happy with her body that she’d do modeling. I mean, I have an OK body, I do dress to show it off, but what these models do is a whole ‘nother level.

    You mentioned experimenting with new things — more on that later! After seeing your Leica 21mm shots, I got to thinking about wider lenses (like the Voightlander). And when you mentioned the Leica Q, I went back and looked at some of the photos in online reviews; there was one I’d seen that really struck me; I thought ‘wow I’d love to do that someday.’ Photo was in Japan. Of course. So the other day I was looking through a bunch of my own stuff, wondering if anything really struck me in the same way. What happened, though, was seeing a number of mine where I thought, ‘that would have been a better picture if I’d framed it wider.’

    So I guess I’m ready for something new. I’ll take the D-Lux Typ 109, lock it so it always comes on at 35mm, and see what I can do! The el-cheapo path, without buying a new lens — yet.

    Speaking of something new — I wound up, weirdly, doing a fashion shoot yesterday. Macy’s here bringing in a designer to introduce her fall line; wanted local women to model for them. I said no; my spouse said yes & I volunteered to shoot for free. Not that designer cared or was gonna pay, but it was good for me and set a tone for the women modeling . . . made it more a fantasy experience for them.

    It was a challenge — really working on getting my framing right, catching them at three basic positions — so I thought. Needed to zoom in and out and really wished I had the SL!!!
    but the framing & focus worked out great.

    What I learned:
    Shooting a big DSLR for ninety minutes, my arm really hurt.
    Use live view, idiot! That’s what it’s there for. Then you wouldn’t have 149 dng’s needing exposure correction.
    Also: I get to go backstage & dressing room. Those women were wild, and since this wasn’t pro, they took their wild onto the floor. So much for the ‘three positions’ I’d thought out so carefully. I had to be ready for almost anything. Which I’d read about, and even posted here. I guess you don’t learn until it happens to you.
    And finally: sell useless older model Nikon & lens. Need a modern sensor that can handle ISO 3200 and look good. One of SL or CL would have been perfect with a 24-105 vario lens. OK well that’s more a fantasy but there you go!

    Tonkatsu and soba. Now you have me wanting pork, and I’m a vegetarian. We went to Tatsuya Tendon and Marugame Udon, which are giant chains and if this were MickyD’s, you would not expect much. These two were amazing, Even our ‘host’ (more ‘head of extended family’) said well, Tenya wasn’t the best, but he did eat there a lot. Even as chains, they make their noodles fresh every day. As well as their broths. Everything comes to you as soon as it’s been cooked. Just as with beer, fresh is best.

    We talked with head-of-family about the food. He said look, ‘You eat in Ginza and Shinjuku. People all over the country compete to be there. Of course it’s amazing.’ Also, it doesn’t hurt that many of the chefs are fourth or fifth generation, with the attitude “Maybe in twenty more years I’ll be as good as my father was.’

    EVF: yes, I use focus peaking, tho several times that misled me, because what I wanted to get was different. And a fair amount of time, I don’t get contrast areas. Right now on the M240 with the Summicrom 50, I can get the focus I want with the OVF not the EVF. EVF wins when I use the Tele Elmar 130 f4 (yup, believe it: it’s around $500 and every bit a Leica).

    Of course I’d love a Q. Actually I saw a number of people carrying one in Japan. Lovely lovely brilliant camera — and, as I hear, it uses the new lens design that gets double the lines per inch of the older glass. Sigh.

    Oh, BTW anyone with an SL and twenty or thirty thousand of Leica glass does NOT get to envy an Apple Cinema Display. Seriously – there’s a known flaw that apparently has no fix: leave it on too long and green dots show up outlining contrast areas. Think focus peaking that you can’t shut off.

    Well, if you do get the SL2, I guess you now have the SL as a backup. And I get to go all hot and bothered by your SL2 review. It’s true what you say about letting go of equipment . . . you think, ‘it’s just a tool’ but most artisans keep their tools for life. They know them, can feel them. And there’s that Leica factor: once I picked up my M8, I knew I’d have a Leica in my life for always.

    • Patrick

      Hi Kathy!

      In terms of experimenting, I find it the best way to get the images I want. Not everyone shoots like me, of course or even has the luxury. I imagine some have very specific guidelines as to what they need to shoot, etc. But if I’m not shooting for someone else, what I like to do is get a model that is up for just trying a bunch of new stuff. I get them to come for a few hours, bring a bunch of outfits, and we just start shooting. I may have a general idea in mind like testing strobes one day but even that can sometimes go out the window. I had one person come over just to test strobes. We didn’t even use them but we ended up with some really cool shots.

      As for the hanging out part, I think that’s just mostly with me because a lot of them tell me it’s not what they normally do on shoots haha. I like to keep things really chill. That’s just me. I’ll give them general direction but overall, I like to put people at ease, and let their true character come out. It seems to work well with me. As photographers, we have to know something but it’s crazy to think we know everything. The models definitely contribute, and they know stuff too. Every person I’ve shot with brings something different and unique to the table. It’s more than just looks, and I feel like sometimes, if you try to control the situation too much, you tend to not really get to see their true selves, if that makes sense. I hope I’m not going crazy spiritual on you here; I just had a long day haha. For instance, I actually like laughing and smiling pics. Since we’re always talking and cracking jokes, often times, we break out in crazy laughter. I like photos like that but apparently, a lot of the models told me I’m an exception. They were told not to smile. I guess it’s not sexy enough lol but I disagree. I did a lingerie shoot with one model where she was eating a pork bun, and she was cracking up like crazy. I think it was one of her most liked photos.

      As for urban shoots, I love doing them. I love the backgrounds. I’m not a huge fan of the paper backgrounds, etc. I just love walking around, and using different areas of the city as my background.

      In terms of vulnerability, everyone feels it. I definitely couldn’t get my pics taken haha. But I think there’s actually a trust between the photographer and model. That definitely helps. That’s also why I shoot with a lot of the same people. After a while, you just get to know each other better, and both sides are willing to take more chances to produce a better photo.

      I shot with a girl last Sunday who I’ve shot with so many times, I’ve lost count. She was actually the first person I’ve ever shot with. Like my 50mm Lux, she is my “go-to” model haha. When I need quality content and quickly, I know I can get it with her. She was saying how it’s so easy to work together because we know how each of us work, and what images we want. We know how each of us are going to react. In fact, I sent her a mood board this time before the shoot, and I had some lingerie shots in it. I only sent them because those were the only ones I had with a specific background I wanted to use with her. I told her to disregard the lingerie, and just look at the background but she was actually interested in maybe trying a bit of the boudoir. We did, and actually ended up with some really cool content. It was like our best shoot.

      Eisenstaedt and D’Orazio are quite different haha. I love so many different techniques and styles :). Robert Frank is great too.

      As for using something wider, you should definitely give it a go. If you’re looking at something from Voigtlander, I hope you read one of my future reviews because after the Voigtlander 75mm f1.5 and Sigma 45mm f28 reviews, I plan on getting a Voigtlander 21mm :). I’ve had a few requests for it.

      And locking the D-Lux on 35mm is not the el cheapo way of doing it hahaha, it’s the smart way! Lenses are expensive. You definitely want to make sure you are happy with what you’re going to buy.

      So, you got to do your own shoot??? Sounds like fun! You know how you say, “So much for the ‘three positions’ I’d thought out so carefully. I had to be ready for almost anything. Which I’d read about, and even posted here. I guess you don’t learn until it happens to you”? At the end of the day, you can do all the prep work in the world but sometimes, winging it is the best haha. It’s good to hear your spouse volunteering you :). Good for her and you. You need to get an SL ;). My evil plan is to slowly convert all M users to the SL muahahaha :).

      Every time I speak to you about Japanese food, I get so hungry haha. Apologies for mentioning pork to you :). I’m also a fan of vegetable tempura, if that helps haha. Some of those places in Japan are really amazing. Actually, I pretty much all those places in Japan are amazing haha. It’s exactly what you said; you have chefs that come from a long line of chefs. I was even a fan of the Krispy Kreme in Shibuya. Man, I miss Shinjuku btw. Great camera shops there too.

      I actually had no issue focusing the 50 Cron with the OVF either. I love that lens. It was the first Leica lens that I ever used (my dad’s), and it was the first one that I ever bought myself. I still have it, and I refuse to sell it. It’s just such a great lens. It’s so sharp, compact, fast, and easy to use. I never had any focusing issues with it. You have one of those Tele-Elmar lenses? Wow, that’s really cool. I haven’t tried one myself yet.

      Focus peaking that I can’t shut off hahaha. Ok fine, maybe I don’t get to envy but hey, I’m editing all my images on a 15 inch Macbook Pro hahaha.

      As for the SL2, I pre-ordered it two years ago haha. My family’s been going to the same Leica dealer for a long time…over 30 years. So, I told the owner that I better be the first on that list haha. I didn’t review the SL because honestly, I was just enjoying it too much, which is no good. But you better believe I’ll be writing up a huge review for the SL2 :). I may write up a short review of the SL…kind of like a tribute maybe. It’s been such a great camera to me. Yes, I know it’s just a tool but at the same time, it was there for me, and it did help me grow as a photographer. I’ve never used a camera so much in my entire life. Anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 shots per week at times? Never have I used any camera like that before.

      The thing is though, I will trade it in for the SL2. I don’t need two, and it’s digital. It doesn’t make sense for me long term. Honestly though, this is the first digital camera where I’m having reservations about trading it in. I know the SL in and out; I know it’s flaws, and its capabilities. I’m used to the feel of it. It’s like an old friend, and while the new one will probably be amazing, I know I can still get great pics out of the old one. Having the new one doesn’t make me a better photographer; it may make my life easier, that’s about it.

      Btw, you should rent that Panasonic. I used it; it’s pretty incredible. Also, My first non-Leica L Mount lens that I’m reviewing is coming out. I have to say, this L alliance is pretty cool. First time I ever used a non-Leica L mount lens on my SL, and it works so well :).

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Memo to self: next time rent the Panasonic S1 and ‘kit lens’ 24-105. A day is $95, which would have been so worth it!

  • Kathy Davis

    About hanging & laughs: sounds more like a working vacation. But I’m gonna guess there’s another thing going on. See, I choose my clothes very carefully to optimize my body, and I figure anyone as experienced as a model is will do the same.

    I don’t know anyone who’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s not showing my best. Let me strip down to my underwear and it’ll all look much better’. Are you kidding? What about that bump or that vein or that burrito you shouldn’t have had for breakfast (I am writing from Texas, after all). unless you’re a swimsuit model.

    Laughter is a classic way of being at ease, forgetting all those little imperfections that are so obvious when you’re stripped. So my guess is that chill atmosphere you encourage might be exactly what makes it all come together for you and for your models.

    The models being told to not smile — I think my spouse can give a little perspective on that. When she knew she was going to do it, she started reading, watching videos, practicing. If you look at catwalk stuff from the mega labels, the models look like robots. Very sexy robots. The general idea is, as spouse put it, “We’re just clothes hangers to sell product. Our personality doesn’t come into it.”

    BTW every shot I took of her turned out — she was totally professional so it was easy to predict what was coming next. 

    In your photography, I suspect you’re more interested in the personality, the look, and in capturing what skills the women have. No robots. 

    “sometimes, if you try to control the situation too much, you tend to not really get to see their true selves, if that makes sense. I hope I’m not going crazy spiritual on you here”

    I went to college in the 60’s (Cornell actually) Meditation & the whole earth mother thing. I am down with spiritual. But here’s the thing: say a woman comes in and just goes, ‘don’t waste my time, I just want out of here.’ I guess she won’t be invited back. Ditto for photographers. Treat women as objects, we hate it. And won’t come back unless we have no choice.

    Your ‘go-to’ model — so are you shooting assignments? I’m in the great position of not selling anything, just doing it for myself. So I’m not exactly clear on how this works as a business 🙂

    Concerning your nefarious plan to convert everyone to an SL: I think you’re trying to push up the price of the used SL, so you can make a bundle when you trade up. 

    OK serious time now. It’s interesting to see what you said about moving to the SL2 as a major pain, because Thorsten Overgaard said that about almost everything: ‘I just want to get it to work and shoot pictures; I can do that now.’ He did a whole thing on how 24megapixels is all the human eye can resolve so what is the deal with the Q2 and Panasonic SR1. No-one needs it.

    Then he got his hands on the cameras and was all ‘this changes everything”. Now he sees the point. BTW if you’re after the SL2, you might try out the Panasonic SR1. And yes, I’d love to try the lower level Panasonic S1. I read the EVF is five — count em’ — five megapixels. Oh, I would love to look through that. 

    No need to apologize about pork. We stopped at Takashimaa’ys food basement. Spouse found a guy who sold a veggies in dashi with a recipe his family had been using for 150 years. And yeah, it tasted like they had it down. Unbelievable. But right in the middle was a small cube of pork. My job — and it was incredible. Next time — I’m doing the pork katsu. Couldn’t cost me more than about a 150 years towards enlightenment. 

    I was thinking about your comment that focusing the 50 cron is easy. Yeah, and you’ve practiced it for — let’s see now YOUR WHOLE LIFE. I’ll bet you have a few dozen tricks for all kinds of situations and you just do them without thinking. 

    Me — only about ten years. But still things just pop into focus. However, I admit in scenes that are very busy, it’s hard for me to get that perfect shot — too much going on. There, I’d switch to EVF. 

     “You have one of those Tele-Elmar lenses? Wow, that’s really cool. I haven’t tried one myself yet.”
    Not sure how that would fit into portraits. For me, we vacation every winter in Vancouver, Canada. Walk forests and ocean every day. So a lot of nature shots. Moving to that area when I retire in 2020.

    Also if you walk hours outdoors in 32F, you can eat anything you want. And Vancouver is like Tokyo — serious about food.

    About your SL — I have two computers, linked, one for newest and best and 30iin retina display, the second for old software that I’ve mastered. Photoshop CS4 and Noiseware 🙂 I know them, I can do good things with them. Why change? 

    But for you . . . I mean, you can’t do your kind of professional work without SL level stuff. And those Leica L mount lenses are likely the best there are, and they were designed to be that for years to come. So even if you switch bodies, you’re ahead. 

    Did try my first 35mm shoot. Actually I saw a lot I’d been missing at 70mm equivalent. But, sadly, the Typ 109 is not the Typ 240. I see a new lens in my future!

    Oh, I have to say, looking at 35mm pix online — very few people show what it can do, besides you. Too much architecture!

    Cheers, 
    Kathy

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