Leica CL - First look and thoughts... by nicole struppert

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As Oskar Barnack began the development the first Leica in the early years of the last century, his goal was to construct a camera that would unite compact size, easy handling and superior picture quality without any compromises. A bit more than one week ago, Leica presented the digital version - the Leica CL, an APS-C system camera with 24 MP. 

When I heard of the new CL I was very curious. How would the image quality compare to the Leica Q? Would it be interesting to change my system? I love the Q but from time to time I wish to have the advantages of using different focal lengths. With the new CL you can attach all Leica TL, M, SL & R lenses - which is fab!

I was very delighted when the team of the Leica store in Munich offered me to test the new Leica CL with the brand new 18 mm Elmarit 2.8 ASPH lens for the weekend.

Here are my impressions and thoughts of the brand new CL. This is not a technical review, it is just about my personal thoughts about the handling and output of the camera. Getting to know a camera needs much more time - one weekend is not enough, but it helps to figure out if the camera would be interesting enough to consider a purchase.

Leica CL

Leica CL

First impression

Like any Leica camera the CL has a superb build quality. The body is smaller than the Leica Q and slightly thinner. The camera with the Pancake lens is so small that it fits easily into a pocket. For my opinion the CL is a bit to slim - sometimes I had had the feeling the CL would slip out of my hand. My recommendation would be to get a grip.

Viewfinder & AF

The viewfinder is fantastic. Bright and responsive - no lag of time. The autofocus is snappy and precise. My impression was the the AF was slightly snappier than my Leica Q.

Controls

The worklow of the CL is totally different of the Leica Q. On top of the CL you have two new control dials and in between a small display which shows the shooting mode. 

With the left dial you set the shooting mode. Depending on the shooting mode you can see also the aperture set, the time or the exposure compensation.  Pressing the control dial on the right activates a function you can configure. It is like a second FN Button of the camera. It may sound a bit complicated but it isn’t. Once you understood the workflow of the CL everything makes sense. 

I sometimes had some issues with the control dials. I must have changed the right control dial a few times without noticing it and so my settings changed. It would have been better to put kind of a click wheel on the right site. I didn't have an instruction manual of the CL, but I have heard that there must be a setting in the menu to change it.

Manual Focus

The CL will be most used in AF mode, but as with my Q I prefer to have full control and so I use the manual focus a lot. The downside of the CL is, that you have to get into the menu to change the settings for MF. I wished that there would be a possibility to change this setting with the control dials. But maybe this will come with a software update in the future...

Manual focusing works perfect. Like with the Q, the CL provides a 3x and 6x magnifier and focus peaking as focusing aids. I had the feeling that the focus peaking had a bit more contrast than with the Q. In the Leica Store we added a M lens on the CL and the focusing was easy and smooth.

Image Quality

I shot in DNG & Jpeg (B&W) Mode - The CL performs very well and the Image quality is very good, but not superbe like with the Leica Q. The images of the Q are much more detailed and sharper, which might come from the full frame sensor and the excellent 28mm Summilux lens. 

However it was no problem to restore the shadows and highlights in Capture One. I am sure there would be a difference while using other lenses on the CL.

Leica CL, 100 % crop(click to see full size)

Leica Q, 100% crop (click to see full size)

Final thoughts.

The CL is a great little camera and fun to use. It is small, responsive and you can use all Leica lenses. For me the workflow was a bit to „complicated“. For me Leica stands for craftsmanship and focusing on the essential. The CL is a beautiful, a very well made modern camera but with to many setting possibilities. When I photograph I want to concentrate on the essential, the picture and the composing. I know exactly where I need to change my settings without looking to the camera. That is why I love to shoot with a Rangefinder or the Q.

I am sure you will get used to the workflow of the Leica CL, but for me the CL didn’t fit to my personal workflow. However, there is also a price fact. The CL without a lens costs 2.490 €. Add the 18mm Pancake lens for 1190€ you pay 3.680 € for this combo. This is a lot of money for a camera with an APS-C sensor. Of course you get a very well build camera, a good image quality and the red dot on top, but I have to admit I wouldn’t pay so much money for it. 

I’d rather add 500 € for the Leica Q, with the superbe Image quality, the 28 mm Summilux and the full frame sensor. 

If this is to much money for you, I highly recommend the Fuji X.series with the APS-C sensor. Fuji has a lot of good lenses and the systems are more affordable. At the end of the day, you must be happy with your camera and the image quality and then it doesn't matter which brand you choose ;)...

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me. I am happy to help!

Capture One Pro 11 - New features in 10 minutes by nicole struppert

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Today Phase One released Capture One Pro 11. This upgrade looks very promising and re-invents the Raw processing and the whole workflow. Alexander Svet, a professional photographer and Capture One trainer, produced a fantastic video with showing some of the new features of version 11.

If you are already a Capture One user or want to buy Capture One Pro 11 don't miss to get a 10% discount on Alexanders website

The Aesthetics of Museum Spaces by nicole struppert

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I love to go to museums - not just to get inspired by the beautiful artwork. Besides the art, I like to wander around and get enchanted by the architecture of museum spaces. 

Museum spaces are special. Architects create spaces by designing the perfect proportion of the space itself, light sources and textures. Sometimes we forget that the space in itself is also a kind of an artwork. Different shades of grey, the perfect geometry of a space and light can give you kind of a zen experience... 

All images has been shot in the Pinaktothek der Moderne in Munich.

Finally! Finding the right workflow in Capture One! by nicole struppert

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I have Capture One for a few years now, but I never made the full transition from Lightroom. The reason for it was that Capture One is very complex and has a different workflow. Lightroom is more intuitive, well structured and easier to learn. But with Capture One you’ll get the best outcome of your pictures. The Raw Converter is amazing - I have no idea what Capture One is doing with the files. The pictures look outstanding compared to the LR files - they don’t look flat and you’ll see more details and more sharpness.

I tried the full transition to Capture One a few times, but always ended up with using LR - 'cause it was easier… This year, I set myself a goal. I was travelling to Lisbon and started to use just Capture One. I worked hard to find the right workflow and set up. I changed the shortcuts and finally, I am overwhelmed… There are still bits and pieces what Capture One could improve, but till now I am very happy with the results and my workflow. 

I’ve written a few blog posts about Capture One and I know that some of you are looking for more details. So here is my current workflow and set up in Capture One.

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Catalog size
The last time I had problems with my catalogue. The catalogue size with 50.000 shots was 38GB.  I redirected my files from an external HD to Capture One and after the import, the catalogue crashed and I had to restart the whole process. As you can imagine I wasn’t happy about it - and so I ended up with LR again. It took me some research to figure out a solution.

I changed my preview file size to 1920 px on my 27’inch iMac. My catalogue size with nearly 54000 pictures is now 1.68 GB. Capture One runs smoothly. This time I imported my LR Catalog to Capture One and I didn’t have any problem.

Workspace
In Capture One you can set up your workspace for your prefered workflow. There are so many possibilities, that it can be pretty confusing in the beginning. To adjust the setting, I wrote down my workflow and adjusted then the workspace. This is my workflow of most of my pictures:

  1. Import the files (Redirecting files to an external HD & extra Back Up Copy) + Copyright
  2. Go through the image, select the keepers & delete the bad pictures
  3. Analysing the shots:
    - Keystone correction
    - Simple adjustments:
      Aperture, Contrast, Light, Shadows
    - Tone Correction
    - Curve
  4. Sharpness / Clarity / Vignette
  5. Presets? (Sometimes I use some User Presets of Capture One to try different looks)
  6. Detailed corrections with the brush
  7. Export
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Therefore I adjusted my Toolbar for my workflow. I deleted tools for tethered shooting ('cause I don’t use it), B&W, Details and a few more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selection:
When I uploaded my pictures to Capture One I start with the selection - same like flag & unflag the pictures in LR. Capture One is not having a special shortcut for selecting the pictures. I decided to use stars - if I select an image, it gets 3 stars - if I unflag an image it goes right into the trash, by pressing x. After selecting the pictures I go into the 3 stars selection and have a proper look at the files and start with my editing process. The Shortcuts help me to run quickly through my pictures.

Editing Process:
My editing process is the one I described in the adjustments for my workspace. Everyone has a different workflow. I don’t do lots of portraits and colour correction, that is why the colour correction tool doesn't play a big role in my editing process - but it is very powerful. Overall I try to edit as less I could… 

Sometimes I convert my colour files into black & white or use some of Capture Ones presets, just to compare different looks. To do this I added a new Shortcut for „Copy Variant“ by pressing alt+command+C. 

Exporting images:
Exporting images is such a joy in Capture One. You can have several „recipes“ and run all of them at the same time.

I use 2 recipes for my archive:

  • High Res for prints
  • 1600px for Web

In Capture One you can adjust the recipes with different ICC Profiles, naming the files, sharping the image for Displays, Metadata, Watermarks etc. There are so many options. The great thing about the exporting tool is, that you can export many images and recipes at the same time. This is such a time safer!

Shortcuts:
In Capture One, you can adjust the Shortcuts to your needs. One thing which drove me really nuts in the beginning was that I wanted to confirm my adjustment by pressing the return/enter key.  It took a while to get used by pressing the V key (selection tool) to confirm edits. Here are the Shortcuts I most use:

V : Confirm / Selection Tool

H : Handtool, double-click to get to a 100% view

C : Crop Tool

K : Keystone Tool (You'll get better results when you use the markers, not in the middle of the image)

# :  Grid on /off

+ : Assign color tag: red

X : deselected images, which go straight to the trash

Cmd + : Zoom in

Cmd -  : Zoom out

Cmd 0 : Zoom to fit

Cmd + Z : Undo

1-5 : Star Rating

Arrow key right: next image

Arrow key left: last image

alt+Cmd+C : Copy Variant

Final Thoughts:
Learning Capture One takes a while. I am still in the process to learn more tricks to make my life easier. There are still a few things I miss in Capture One, but I am sure the team of Capture One is working constantly to improve the software. For me, the most important thing is, that I do have the best outcome for my images. After using Capture One for a while now, I don’t look back to Lightroom. 

I hope I could help a bit for those who are also thinking about making a full transfer from LR to Capture One. If you have further questions don't hesitate to contact me.

Mick Taylor, farewell my friend... by nicole struppert

Mick Taylor AKA Teapot (1945 - 2017)

Mick Taylor AKA Teapot (1945 - 2017)

Today I received the sad news that my friend Mick Taylor has passed away at the end of September. Mick was one of the great characters of Shoreditch. 

I met him 5 years ago when I started my documentary project "Tales on Shoreditch".  I do remember the first time when I met Micky. He was sitting with a few mates in front of Brick Lane Coffee. He was always dressed smartly and happy when somebody took a few shots of him. After this time we met regularly for a cup of tea or a bite to eat, talking about his life and became friends. 

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He was a war child, grew up in East End and been married a couple of times. He lived his life, had never much money but he always dressed smartly. He once said: "I already knew what I wanted at seven years old – I am born with it, my style.” 

His nickname was TEAPOT. As much he liked drinking tea he also liked to smoke a bit of pot. We always had a good laugh when we met and while I was taking portraits of him. We sat on the street watching the shots I took of him and he once said:  "Uhh, yes that is me..." While watching the shots he was laughing loud, being happy and lost in his memories of his life. It was one of the biggest compliment I could get. I nailed the shot - showing him like he was...

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August, 2017

August, 2017

Around 2 years ago he started to get some health issues. I was worried, but he always stayed positive. It was very hard to get in touch with him. He had a cell phone but never used it. This year in August, we met the last time. He just came out of the hospital. He had cancer... It was heartbreaking, cause we both knew this might be the last time seeing each other. There was nothing I could for him, just to support him with a bit of money for food. We both took a long hug, looking into his blue eyes and said goodbye...

So farewell my friend... I am sure you will have a blast wherever you are now. It was such a pleasure to meet you. I'll miss you but you will always stay in my heart ...

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