Amazing how things change. Up until recently I just could not take digital cameras
seriously. They were great for getting pics immediately, or for snapshots, but even the
good ones just didn't do it for me. It was like an automatic transmission...
And also until recently almost all my photography was done with rangefinder cameras
and film. I'd use a Leica M6, then an M7 and primarily Kodak Supra 400. I also really
like the Kodak C-41 process black and white films.
But then, I slipped over to the dark side. I tried the then new and unheard of digital
rangefinder from Epson, the RD-1. Wow. The body is made by Cosina, the people who
now do Voigtlander and Zeiss. The camera is not only a rangefinder, with a real time
rangefinder viewfinder, it is a Leica M mount, enabling me to use all my Leica glass,
digitally! It captures in RAW format, and has a fairly fast buffer. It does take a bit getting
used to though (see this Sean Reid review and this one, a wide angle lens review) to
advance to the next shot, you need to cock the shutter arm, like a film camera! This
doesn't advance film, but resets the shutter. So I find if I'm not careful I can miss
something, remembering to both turn the camera back on and have the arm cocked.
And then I did it. Jumped ship and reality at the same time and bought a Leica M8
(used. I may be stupid but I'm not Rockefeller) I liked the convenience, hated the crop
factor. (My lenses were all 1.33 size ratios. My 12mm was 16, I needed a 25 for almost
35mm size and my 35mm was almost a 50. Dumb.) I eventually sold it and in 2010
bought a used Leica MP.
Ah! What a great camera. Now I have to teach myself film and film patience. No more
snapping 10 images hoping for a keeper.
Single Lens Reflex? First various Nikon F bodies I picked up for cheap on eBay. Then
an old Nikon F3 body. All these were great for long lenses. And you can't beat the
quality or the feel. Besides, if I ever had to hammer nail and left my hammer home,
these would do the trick.
When I was planning the Antarctic trip I knew I wanted to shoot SLR, but did I want to
take film? Early in the planning I bought the new Nikon D200 digital body. With
hindsight, excellent choice! (I shot over 2500 images.) I've added the 18-200mm VR
zoom. The lens is no where near as good as Ken Rockwell says, but it is a very handy
walk-about lens. While it's glass is excellent, it's build quality sucks. Mine broke in the
field on my trip! For sure the D200 is going to replace my F3, but I am undecided as the
whether it will replace my rangefinders.
I rarely use artificial light, preferring slow speeds with my rangefinder bodies.
So, early in 2007 I find myself at the crossroads. I've sold my F3 on eBay. I've since sold
my Leica M7 on eBay (whoa, just writing that sent shivers up my spine!) and M8 too. I
have the D200 and the Epson, and now the Leica MP for film. I will keep you in the loop...
For film I used almost exclusively a 35mm f2 Summicron lens as my standard lens.
(35mm on film gives the closest approximation to what the human eye sees.) For
portraits and long shots I use a 90mm f2.8 tele-elmarit, which is incredibly small and
usually fast enough. In the theater I use a 90mm f2 Summicron or a 135mm f2.8
Elmarit. but these lenses are very large and heavy, relatively speaking. All the lenses
were bought used and were made in the '80s. (All of these are problematic with digital.
See below.) When I went back to the MP I bought another Leica 35mm Summicron used.
Two words of advice. The 35mm Summicron is a great piece of glass. And, don;t ever
sell a piece of Leica glass. You will hate yourself for it.
I also use, and love, the new Voigtlander wide glass (which are Leica thread or M
mounts.) They are not Leica, but a fraction of the cost while almost approaching the
quality. Here I use the 50mm F1.5 Nockton, 35mm F2,5 Skopra (lent to my
brother-in-law, hence the need to buy a new Summicron), 21mm F4 Skopar, 15mm
f4.5 Heliar and the incredible 12mm f5.6 Heliar. The 21, 15 and 12mm lenses require
viewfinders, and they are so wide they almost require no focusing! (The 12mm is so
wide I went through dozens of pictures before I learned how to keep my fingers and feet
out of the image!)
The digital rangefinders all present a problem. Because the sensor does not translate 1
to 1, the focal lengths of any given lens is different than it would be on a film body. On
the Epson, it's 1 to 1.5, i.e. a 50mm lens gives a 75mm field of view. On the Leica M8 it's
1 to 1.33 A 35mm lens is 52mm, etc. so you would need a 35mm lens to give approx a
45mm film field of view. On the new Leica body it's 1 to 1.33. The new M9 is 1 to 1, but
at $8,000 body alone, it's a non-starter for me.
For longs I plan to continue using the D200 with the something-200mm lens. I say
something because I think the 18-200 is going. The build really, truly sucks. I sent it to
Nikon for repair and it came back still wobbly! I might try them pro 70-200 f2.8. Quite a
while ago I picked up a large, 300mm EDIF lens for bupkis on eBay. It's not AF, but with
the 1 to 1.5 ratio gives me the equivalent of a 450mm lens!
For 'knock-around' digital, before the Epson came out I had bought a new Panasonic
with Leica glass. Panasonic makes the body for the Leica version, and, obviously, Leica
makes the glass for the less expensive Panasonic version. Otherwise, identical!
Although a tad expensive, it is easy to use, intuitive, the quality is great and one need
only carry the one camera, as the lens is a 28mm to 90mm zoom. Roberta uses this
camera a lot.
I post some of my work on photo.net (click here) though it's not too current...
|Documentary series on the
dedication of a new Torah.
|People I've met, and enjoyed.
|Trip to Hudson Bay, Oct. 2002
Trip to Hudson Bay, Feb 2005
|Trip to Paris, December 2002
Pictures at a Bris
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Pictures from a Sephardic Shul