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Author Topic: Leica M8 Revisted  (Read 41450 times)
Rob C
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« Reply #60 on: January 10, 2008, 10:27:33 AM »
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James

"That and CA on backlit images which at times can be quite severe."

I donīt have an M8 but I was wondering here about the backlit thing. My D200 sems to be okay on most things that Iīve tried with it, but I have to admit to less than happy results with it when shooting into clouds with the sun behind them.

Unlike film, where there is a gentle burning out in extreme areas, the digital response seems to be that huge parts of the brightest cloud area just block out completely - a most unattractive phenomenon indeed.

My point, really, is whether this is a digital fault where severe underexposure would save the cloud at the expense of the rest of the pic. Yes, I know about multiple shots of the same thing, to be blended together later, but Iīm never on a tripod these days, I just hope for a result at least as good as on film, but perhaps that just proves something about the level of development with digital technology...

But really, is the Leica M8 any worse than, say, the D200 in that backlighting aspect?

When I worked as a pro I did a lot of shots with backlit hair - loved that halo effect - but am I wrong to think it would be a total no-no with digital? So far, it amuses me somewhat to realise that, with digital, I have never yet shot a woman or any other human subject!

Rob C
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dseelig
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« Reply #61 on: January 10, 2008, 09:38:10 PM »
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Hi James
My post was not to knock you at all I hope you did not take it that way, I love rangefinders and tried the last few years to use a 5d as a light weight camera to always have on me. It did not work out well as carrying much more then a 35 1.4 got burdensome fast. The m8 for me is nice but not perfect too much noise on the upper end  of iso's I cannot use my 35 summilux at f4 bad focus there. It does take some time for people to adjust to rangefinder focus. That was not to knock you just something I have noticed over the years. I wish it was full frame as I hate not having a 35 f 1.4 lens. The summicron 28 is nice but it is not a 1.4 This is my personel camera and my light system for some newspaper work. I liked your website by the way. Enjoy shooting David
 
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It's not really the rangfinder that makes focus that difficult, actually in some instances it makes focus easier.

You do have to get used to focusing in the center and then moving to the compositiion.

One of the issues, beyond the crop lines is with the Leica I've had three lenses that are not calibrated to the focus properly, two 50's and the 90.

It's a lovely little camera, but Leica needs to up the QC of some of the basics and focus calibration is one area to address.

That and CA on backlit images which at times can be quite severe.

James Russell
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« Last Edit: January 10, 2008, 11:42:57 PM by dseelig » Logged
James R Russell
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« Reply #62 on: January 11, 2008, 12:39:33 AM »
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James

"That and CA on backlit images which at times can be quite severe."

I donīt have an M8 but I was wondering here about the backlit thing. My D200 sems to be okay on most things that Iīve tried with it, but I have to admit to less than happy results with it when shooting into clouds with the sun behind them.

Unlike film, where there is a gentle burning out in extreme areas, the digital response seems to be that huge parts of the brightest cloud area just block out completely - a most unattractive phenomenon indeed.

My point, really, is whether this is a digital fault where severe underexposure would save the cloud at the expense of the rest of the pic. Yes, I know about multiple shots of the same thing, to be blended together later, but Iīm never on a tripod these days, I just hope for a result at least as good as on film, but perhaps that just proves something about the level of development with digital technology...

But really, is the Leica M8 any worse than, say, the D200 in that backlighting aspect?

When I worked as a pro I did a lot of shots with backlit hair - loved that halo effect - but am I wrong to think it would be a total no-no with digital? So far, it amuses me somewhat to realise that, with digital, I have never yet shot a woman or any other human subject!

Rob C
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Unlike different film, film cameras and lenses, I find digital capture to be very scene specific.

Not in standard, front, side, softlight situations, but difficult or trick lighting like backlight, intentional flare, deep shade, or the tougest, underexposure, they all react differently, some great some not so.

In other words some cameras work well in some scenarios, some don't.  Not that anybody could, would or should do this, but I'm positive you could test the different digital cameras in all of these situations and then select the one best for the lighting at hand.

I've owned Kodak, Fuji, Canons (all of them) Nikon (most of them), Phase (two of them), Leaf (one of them) and the Leica and I am positive that you could pick the camera as much for the lighting style as you could detail, ergonomics, lenses, etc.

Once again nobody will do this and I surely don't advocate carrying 9 camera systems, but at this stage I carry 3 (four if you count the Leica).  I think I probably have taken this too far, but then again there are times that some cameras are just completely right for a specific look and in the Leica's case sometimes they may not be right but it is a pleasent surprise.

James Russell
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Rob C
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« Reply #63 on: January 11, 2008, 04:43:13 AM »
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James

Thanks for your response - I guess that the digital way is inevitably - but unfortunately, going to be much as you describe it: variable, camera to camera, and thus not really ideal to all purposes (within the formatīs capabilities, I mean!).

Oh well - perhaps one should look on it as being more choice, rather than a restriction; yeah, right, I hear the voices in my head telling me!

Take care - Rob C
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Russell Price
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« Reply #64 on: January 11, 2008, 04:32:56 PM »
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Unlike different film, film cameras and lenses, I find digital capture to be very scene specific.

Not in standard, front, side, softlight situations, but difficult or trick lighting like backlight, intentional flare, deep shade, or the tougest, underexposure, they all react differently, some great some not so.

In other words some cameras work well in some scenarios, some don't.  Not that anybody could, would or should do this, but I'm positive you could test the different digital cameras in all of these situations and then select the one best for the lighting at hand.

I've owned Kodak, Fuji, Canons (all of them) Nikon (most of them), Phase (two of them), Leaf (one of them) and the Leica and I am positive that you could pick the camera as much for the lighting style as you could detail, ergonomics, lenses, etc.

Once again nobody will do this and I surely don't advocate carrying 9 camera systems, but at this stage I carry 3 (four if you count the Leica).  I think I probably have taken this too far, but then again there are times that some cameras are just completely right for a specific look and in the Leica's case sometimes they may not be right but it is a pleasent surprise.

James Russell
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I don't understand the need for so many systems.  Is it part of the "bigger is better" attitude to impress clients or is their a genuine need for it?  Is it hard to keep track of all those cases?  What happens if an assistant hands you a Nikon when you wanted the Canon?  What does your client think?  One minute you are shooting with a Canon, the next with a Phase back on god knows what kind of camera, then you are shooting with the Leica than a Nikon.  If a client was astute enough to know and understand different formats, would they not question the need for you to have so many different types of cameras.

Seems like overkill to me.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2008, 04:37:02 PM by Russell Price » Logged
zlatko-b
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« Reply #65 on: January 11, 2008, 10:01:39 PM »
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I don't understand the need for so many systems.  Is it part of the "bigger is better" attitude to impress clients or is their a genuine need for it?
I think James already explained this a few posts up ...

"In other words some cameras work well in some scenarios, some don't."

"I think I probably have taken this too far, but then again there are times that some cameras are just completely right for a specific look ..."
« Last Edit: January 11, 2008, 10:12:55 PM by zlatko-b » Logged

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« Reply #66 on: January 12, 2008, 12:19:36 AM »
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i am enjoying the m8 more and more...and i use it for jobs as well...funny thing...people actually comment on the camera, but leica still carries a certain credibility and "the AD's wife" is more likely to own a nikon/canon then a leica.....

i have only owned mine for a couple of months but i am super happy and i am excited to dive a little deeper into one of the great advantages of the leica: the lenses....and i don't just mean the latest, most expensive ones, but the older, funky ones with character.....a 30 year old lens might completely flare out when shooting into the sun, but might have incredible DR because of the general lack of contrast...ever wonder why your grandma's pics have that range of tones...even bright sunlight at noon?

there are some incredibly crisp and contrasty lenses available but there are just as many low contrast, creamier lenses.....like using different brushes to paint....
DPs talk about filmstock but they really go on and on about their lenses.....

there is an old canon 0.95/50 available which has a look that simply cannot be recreated in postproduction.....
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Russell Price
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« Reply #67 on: January 12, 2008, 05:45:52 AM »
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I think James already explained this a few posts up ...

"In other words some cameras work well in some scenarios, some don't."

"I think I probably have taken this too far, but then again there are times that some cameras are just completely right for a specific look ..."
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Ok, well, Mr. Russell is the Master, so I guess, well, ok, he knows best.  I just think that a little less gear, may make a shoot easier to handle.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2008, 05:47:45 AM by Russell Price » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #68 on: January 12, 2008, 12:05:32 PM »
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Ok, well, Mr. Russell is the Master, so I guess, well, ok, he knows best.  I just think that a little less gear, may make a shoot easier to handle.
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Russell

I think along similar lines too, but then I was usually a unit of 1 and that sort of controlled a lot of the limits of what went along with me on a shoot.

Some might see that as disadvantage - I chose and choose to see it from the opposite perspective: it concentrated the mind.

I donīt think it makes a lot of difference anymore. The route to the print or whatever the final showing of the work is going to be has become ever more complex and complicated. I donīt have the energy to bore you again with my feelings about photography now and then, so thereīs not a lot more I can add without going over the same old ground for the umpteenth time.

I remember reading Sante DīOrazio somewhere saying that if he saw too many lights being set up that he always took it as a bad sign...

Rob C
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« Reply #69 on: January 12, 2008, 12:22:51 PM »
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I too believe in simplicity, and stick to one not-so-humble system for my very humble non-professional needs. But how's that saying go - Walk a mile in my shoes? I'll refrain comment on James Russel's gear until I walk a mile in his shoes ...

And that other saying - The right tool for the right job. If you have many different types of jobs you may require different types of tools. Nothing worse than trying to hammer in a nail with a screwdriver. OK, I can think of many worse things, but you get the point .

And I thank him for taking his valuable time to give us his perspectives.
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« Reply #70 on: January 12, 2008, 12:45:06 PM »
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a 30 year old lens might completely flare out when shooting into the sun, but might have incredible DR because of the general lack of contrast...
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That is an illusion.  You can not increase the DR of a RAW digital capture with low contrast in the optical path.  You get an inferior image, with more noise, than if you had simply under-exposed and added the gray blanket after the fact.  A capture where blacks are gray puts the blackpoint up into a range with higher shot noise, and it's hard to subtract the gray blanket evenly across the image, anyway.
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pss
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« Reply #71 on: January 12, 2008, 02:01:37 PM »
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That is an illusion.  You can not increase the DR of a RAW digital capture with low contrast in the optical path.  You get an inferior image, with more noise, than if you had simply under-exposed and added the gray blanket after the fact.  A capture where blacks are gray puts the blackpoint up into a range with higher shot noise, and it's hard to subtract the gray blanket evenly across the image, anyway.
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you are probably right and it is an illusion....and honestly after way too much time spent on technical details and pixelpeeping i am really happy to enjoy "illusions" again and technical imperfections and mistakes....in the end it is the image that counts....
i am looking at a b&w photo of my grandparents from 1960...time seems to be around 2pm...serious "racoon eyes" but the sky still holds detail and the shadows are nice and open....without highlight/shadow recovery....of course i have no clue how it was developed or printed and i am sure it wasn't shot with a leica but there is definitely less contrast (i probably should not call it more DR)....

i am not sure why james should have to explain why and how much equipment has wants to bring to a job....he gets hired to produce a certain look and that's what he delivers....just because terry richardson shoots campains with a throw away p&s does not mean anyone else can do the same...or can't....the results count...
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hankg
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« Reply #72 on: January 12, 2008, 03:06:49 PM »
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Ok, well, Mr. Russell is the Master, so I guess, well, ok, he knows best.  I just think that a little less gear, may make a shoot easier to handle.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=166683\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Judging from his work he (James Russel) certainly seems to know what's best for him. He's not telling you how you should work just sharing his experience, which I find pretty interesting. There are as many methods and preferences as there are successful photographers. I'm always curious to see how others work and why.

Better if like James you shared your work experience, perhaps how you handle your shoots? rather then just making snide remarks.

One more point for those needing lens calibration for Leica lenses. As a rule every lens I buy used I send to Don Goldberg at DAG camera for focus calibration. Unfortunately you might want to consider it for new Leica lenses as well as they are not always properly calibrated and not everyone has been getting good results with Leica service.

Of course you should make sure your M8 finder is properly calibrated first.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2008, 03:15:05 PM by hankg » Logged

Russell Price
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« Reply #73 on: January 12, 2008, 05:02:09 PM »
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Judging from his work he (James Russel) certainly seems to know what's best for him. He's not telling you how you should work just sharing his experience, which I find pretty interesting. There are as many methods and preferences as there are successful photographers. I'm always curious to see how others work and why.

Better if like James you shared your work experience, perhaps how you handle your shoots? rather then just making snide remarks.

One more point for those needing lens calibration for Leica lenses. As a rule every lens I buy used I send to Don Goldberg at DAG camera for focus calibration. Unfortunately you might want to consider it for new Leica lenses as well as they are not always properly calibrated and not everyone has been getting good results with Leica service.

Of course you should make sure your M8 finder is properly calibrated first.
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Hank

That was not a snide remark.  I was bowing to Mr. Russell.  Sorry if it came across that way.
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John Sheehy
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« Reply #74 on: January 12, 2008, 06:04:03 PM »
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you are probably right and it is an illusion....and honestly after way too much time spent on technical details and pixelpeeping i am really happy to enjoy "illusions" again and technical imperfections and mistakes....in the end it is the image that counts....

You get the best image, technically, when you understand the technology you're using.

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i am looking at a b&w photo of my grandparents from 1960...time seems to be around 2pm...

Oh yeah,  play the old grandparents sympathy card.  Please don't throw your family under my bus.  

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i am not sure why james should have to explain why and how much equipment has wants to bring to a job....he gets hired to produce a certain look and that's what he delivers....just because terry richardson shoots campains with a throw away p&s does not mean anyone else can do the same...or can't....the results count...
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I was addressing only your proposition that lowering contrast during capture could capture more DR; I didn't even notice the rest of the context, but your proposition is self-contained, and misgiven.  I gleefully purchased a Tiffen ultra-contrast filter a couple of years ago, thinking it would help with DR, but after examining RAW images with and without, I realized what was really happening.  A certain percentage of light remained as a sharp, focused image, and the rest of it was scattered evenly across the frame.  The amount of relevant signal turned out to be an under-exposure, with extra shot noise.  What to do?  Get a DSLR or digital back with low read noise at low ISO, and under-expose by a couple stops, if you must use auto-exposure and can't be bothered to calculate the highlights.  Who's to say that a camera that is labeled ISO 100 and has 3.5 stops of headroom above middle gray really isn't ISO 400 with 5.5 stops of headroom?  Or ISO 50 with 2.5 stops of headroom?  The results are what matters, and with a low noise camera, you can get away with "under-exposing" low ISOs if you need the highlight gamble-room.  If you want that low-contrast look, just load into photoshop, open Levels, move the output blackpoint up to taste.   You'll have a better image than if you used a low-contrast lens.
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James R Russell
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« Reply #75 on: January 13, 2008, 01:01:27 AM »
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I don't understand the need for so many systems.  Is it part of the "bigger is better" attitude to impress clients or is their a genuine need for it?  Is it hard to keep track of all those cases?  What happens if an assistant hands you a Nikon when you wanted the Canon?  What does your client think?  One minute you are shooting with a Canon, the next with a Phase back on god knows what kind of camera, then you are shooting with the Leica than a Nikon.  If a client was astute enough to know and understand different formats, would they not question the need for you to have so many different types of cameras.

Seems like overkill to me.
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Obviously we do try to impress clients, but then again the studio, the portfolio, the resume,  the dinner reservations all play into it.  Impression  is sometimes as valid as reality and whether any of us admit it or not (not just talking photography), we all to some extent make an effort to impress, because if didn't Armani, BMW, or even Banana Republic would not be in business.

At the end of the day it's the final photograph that matters and though we would like to all believe it's ONLY the photograph that matters, in business and life the results are not the only element in making an impression.

Given all of this, I don't really drag three camera systems around to make an impression, I just have them as specific tools for specific functions.

Right now I'm deep in heavy production in Europe and today will be quite intense, running two sets on a high profile subject that may give us 6 hours of set time, or much less.  It may be beneficial to have the images on a 24" monitor or may lead to interference.  The subject may run or jump or just be static and given these variables, our Phase, our Canons and our Nikons will all be used, if  to provide different looks as much as their ability to capture high/low iso, or just work under certain lighting.

In other words regardless of what is thrown at us, we should have it covered.  Actually we better have it covered and when you have 4,000 lbs of grip and lighting, a few hundred pounds of cameras really doesn't get in the way, or become a burden.

It's a funny business and we are what we shoot, but more importantly we better get the shot.

Few clients care if I'm holding a Nikon, a Canon or a Contax, but they do care if the final image is what they want and they also care if it will reproduce to the size they need.

I wish one camera would do it all, probably medium format because I'm most comfortable with that system, but what I wish is not that important, what works is.  

Now would I like to shoot everything with just one camera?. . . maybe, uh sure, that would be easy, could be  fun . . . defiantly less stressful, but I haven't ever heard a client concern themselves on what is easy for me and when I think about it, they shouldn't.

As far as stress, well if stress, lack of sleep  and the resulting adrenaline rush wasn't something that I thrived on, then I picked the wrong business.

This is not a convenient business and you know when your career is moving forward because your always uncomfortable. If I'm rested and relaxed I'd better start calling agents and clients to fill up my schedule.  

Sure there are photographers like TR that use one single camera and lens and maybe that's part of their style, or charisma, or maybe they just like that camera.  ˇhat is something you would have to ask them, but I doubt seriously if one single camera makes anyone more or less creative, though certain cameas can stop you from working as much as allow you to go further.

Then again I'm not the final judge of my work.  there are many people up the food chain that make that ultimate call.

James Russell
« Last Edit: January 13, 2008, 01:07:00 AM by James R Russell » Logged

James R
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« Reply #76 on: January 17, 2008, 01:09:30 PM »
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I don't understand the need for so many systems....

Seems like overkill to me.
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I think your questions is actually, "Why doesn't he shoot like me?"  Sometimes understanding comes from not understanding.   Appreciate  James Russell's work for its artistry.  Don't dwell on the "things" used in its creation.   Isn't this how you want your work viewed?  

The paradox of understanding is that there is often no answer--no right or wrong, too little or too much.  Things just are.
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Rob C
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« Reply #77 on: January 18, 2008, 04:32:29 AM »
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I think your questions is actually, "Why doesn't he shoot like me?"  Sometimes understanding comes from not understanding.   Appreciate  James Russell's work for its artistry.  Don't dwell on the "things" used in its creation.   Isn't this how you want your work viewed? 

The paradox of understanding is that there is often no answer--no right or wrong, too little or too much.  Things just are.
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There truly is no argument with what you have written; further, on pondering my one-man-and-his-model (not dog, as you thought this was going to end) to the group ethic, it could well be that I have been doing exactly what you have just described: putting my own way into a generalised scenario which, of course, is a flawed approach to anything.

Looking at the work of some of my own contemporaries, it is fairly obvious that they too were group workers - I can only assume, with the benefits of hindsight, that I simply ignored their oeuvre because it was unlike mine, resulting in a memory blindness.

That said, insofar as to the previously alluded to era of photography known as the Golden one, I still believe that it did exist and has long passed. And that, I am sure, is not just a personal view extrapolated.

Rob C
« Last Edit: January 18, 2008, 04:35:48 AM by Rob C » Logged

James R
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« Reply #78 on: January 18, 2008, 10:14:20 AM »
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There truly is no argument with what you have written; further, on pondering my one-man-and-his-model (not dog, as you thought this was going to end) to the group ethic, it could well be that I have been doing exactly what you have just described: putting my own way into a generalised scenario which, of course, is a flawed approach to anything.

Looking at the work of some of my own contemporaries, it is fairly obvious that they too were group workers - I can only assume, with the benefits of hindsight, that I simply ignored their oeuvre because it was unlike mine, resulting in a memory blindness.

That said, insofar as to the previously alluded to era of photography known as the Golden one, I still believe that it did exist and has long passed. And that, I am sure, is not just a personal view extrapolated.

Rob C
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The "Golden Age" of TV, Rock and Roll, photography, and movies are but ancient history to the young.  My grandchildren might look back at today as the "Golden Age" of photography.  This view could be from a world were the camera, as we know it, is obsolete.
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« Reply #79 on: February 03, 2008, 06:13:12 AM »
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LEICA has announced an "upgrade" program for the M8.  For $1800 U.S. (1200 Euro) you buy a certificate that holds your place in line for the upgrade.

You send your camera to Solms for one month.  Leica will replace the shutter with a newly designed unit that is said to more like a traditional M shutter (no vibration, low noise level) ----- but you loose your top end of 1/8000th  and flash sync falls from 250th to 1/180th of a second (edit -it is  1/180 not 1/180th as typed)  .  Additionally, the rear LCD glass is replaced with a sapphire glass cover and Leica extends your warranty by two years.

$1800 to fix an item that has been a cause of concern to many pro shooters about the M8.  The current shutter is fairly loud - much louder than a traditional M film camera and it does carry what feels like a bit of vibration from the motor winding the shutter.

I don't know if I will up upgrade my bodies.  The new firmware helps a bit with the AWB color balance.

http://en.leica-camera.com/photography/m_system/m8/
« Last Edit: February 03, 2008, 08:30:57 AM by Camdavidson » Logged
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