Gear

5 reasons why I stick with my Leica Q - instead buying the Leica M10

The last few weeks I received more and more requests from you asking " Should I get the new Leica M10 or stick with the Leica Q?". I decided to write a blog post for you, which may help you to decide.

I have a Leica Q since day one. The people who read my blog, know that the Leica Q and I haven't been in love at first sight. But with time and lot of patience, the Leica Q became a unique camera for me with a brilliant image quality.

In the beginning of this year, I had some sensor issues with the Q. Leica Wetzlar was so kind to lend me the brand new M10 with a 35mm Summilux while my Q was being repaired. I was in heaven and enjoyed every second shooting with the M10 - on the same site I started missing the Leica Q. The M10 with the 35mm Summilux is magic and so I started to be caught in a dilemma. Should I sell my Leica Q and get a M10 instead? 

Shots with the Leica M10 and 35mm Summilux

Here are 5 reasons which helped me to make my decision:

#focal length & Image quality
I love to shoot 28 & 35mm. The Leica Q with its fixed 28mm lens gives me both possibilities. I don't mind if the 35mm is in cropped mode. I do shoot mostly architecture, documentary or street photography. For this, the Leica Q is the perfect match. I can get very close to my subjects or use perfectly the wide angle lens. The image quality is superb - and the colour and B&W rendering of the Q is top of the notch! 

#lens
The 28mm Summilux fixed lens is the perfect match on the Leica Q. I have shot with many different Leica Summilux lenses on the M Body. But I never have been happier with the result like the one of the Leica Q. I don't know what Leica has done! This lens is magic, fast and sharp! The colour and B&W rendering are so aesthetic and there is no need to do a lot of post-processing.

Of course, a 35mm or 50mm Summilux could give you the same result - but just the lenses cost around 4000€ ...

#silent shutter
There is not much to say about the silent shutter. Compared to the Leica M10 it is so silent, that in nearly any situation you wouldn't be noticed while taking a picture.

#Manual & AF
I am a big fan of shooting with the manual focus on a Rangefinder. I always get really fast and precise results. But shooting all day long with a Rangefinder can make your eyes pretty tired. Then it is helpful to have an autofocus. Shooting with the Leica Q gives you both possibilities. It took me a while to get used to the manual focus of the Q, but with some patience it works really good. Most of the time I use the Zone Focusing, but if I am too lazy, the Q gives me the possibility to switch to the AF mode, which is fast and precise.

#prize
Last but not least - the prize! Shooting with a Leica is pure luxury. With a Leica camera, you will not make better pictures like with any other camera from another brand. But if you have the money and want the Leica experience you should first ask yourself what kind of images you want to shoot and do you need to shoot with different focal lengths. 

The new Leica M10 is a brilliant camera, but the body already costs 6.850 €! With one Summilux lens on top, you have to invest around 10.000 €! This is a lot of money! The Leica Q costs already 4.190 € with the 28mm fixed Summilux. 

Shots made with the Leica Q

Final thoughts
After a lot of thinking I decided to stick with my Leica Q. The Q is the more modern camera with an amazing image quality and a fantastic lens. So why should I change my system? The Leica M10 might have one or two stops better ISO, but for me, it is not worth to pay around 6000 € extra. With the Leica Q I am able to get nearly the same results. 

Another important reason for me is, that travelling with a combo of 10.000 € makes me feel very attentive that nobody steals my camera. With the Leica Q, I don't have that feeling. The Leica Q is a light and trusty travel companion. This camera helps you to grow as a photographer. Even after owning the Q around 2 years - I still learn new things about using the camera and I really enjoy this experience.

Finally, I hope that I could give you some aspects to make your decision. Both cameras are amazing and if money doesn't matter, I am sure you will be very happy with both cameras.

If you have further questions, just get in touch with me. I am always happy to help. Best, nicole

Love & Pain - the Leica Q

The last few weeks I got many emails where people asked me what settings I use with my Leica Q. I thought it would be the best to write a blog post to share my settings and how I use the Leica Q.

Honestly shooting with the Leica Q is a bit like love and pain. I usually prefer to work with the rangefinders - with the Leica M I am quick and precise - no lack of time while using the AF of the Q. But I really love the Leica Q files so much, that I am constantly working on improving my workflow with the Q.

So here are a few topics of the questions:

DNG & Jpeg
The Leica Q can shoot DNG & jpegs site by site or just jpeg. The color jpegs of the Q are not as good like the B&W jpegs. Unfortunately it is not possible to shoot just DNG - which I would prefer. Shooting DNG & jpegs site by site eats the memory card and slows down the writing process especially while shooting continuously. What I have done is that I have changed the jpeg resolution to 12/ 8 / 4 M. This gives me bit better writing process. I really hope that Leica is doing a software update to shoot just DNG.

B&W Settings
I like contrasty B&W images. My current settings are:
Contrast: High
Sharpness: Medium High

Rome, 2015

Full auto mode
It is possible to use the Q in full auto mode like a point and shoot camera. The AF is fast - but depending on light situations the AF can search sometimes a bit too long, that situations can pass by.

Full auto mode, ISO 3200, Rome 2015

1Point AF Mode
Like with the Leica M - 90 % of the time I am using Zone Focusing - 1 Point AF Mode. I put the AF square in the center of my screen that I am quick to focus my object and by half press shutter I can recompose my image.

Multi Point AF Mode
I used the Multi Point AF Mode a few times - depending on the subjects the AF didn’t focus that well as I wanted and often my object wasn’t in focus but the surrounding.

Rome, 2015

Tracking Mode
I used this while shooting my dog or kids running around - this mode works pretty good.

Touch AF & Release
This is a very easy to use AF mode. Just press on the screen where you want to set the focus and at the same time the photo will get shot. This focus mode works pretty good and fast. I got brilliant results.

Touch AF & Release Mode

Touch AF & Release Mode

Manual Focus
Since a few weeks I started to work more and more using manual focusing. I found out that there is much better control and precise results whenyou are using the manual focus. In the beginning I used the focus peaking mode - but you got more distracted by the red/green/blue or white peaks, that I now just use the MF Assistant - Auto Magnification. I am still working to get better and faster with MF - but I am pretty optimistic that with a little practice I am getting as fast with the Leica M.

Manual Focusing @ f 1.7 , London 2015

Aperture Mode
80 % of my time I am using the Q in Aperture Mode. I put the time on Auto and depending on light situations I have the ISO !00/200 (sunny weather), 800 (indoor), 3200 (night). Sometimes I am lazy and put the ISO on Auto Mode. The Aperture Mode gives me the freedom just to be focused on the Aperture without thinking about time and ISO.

Fully Manual
More and more I am using the Leica Q fully manual. I think you get pretty good results using f 5,6 with 1/125 and set the AF to 1,5 to 2 meters - The ISO I mostly put on Auto / Max ISO 3200.

The Leica Q is a fantastic camera. It takes a while to get used to it. I still need to learn how the camera reacts in certain situations but I hope I could help you a little bit with the Leica Q settings. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me...

Leica Q: Hands on review - Is the Q for you?

When I first tested the Leica Q a few weeks ago at my Leica dealer in Munich, it was love at first sight.  The Q felt just right in my hand, the specs were promising and I loved the idea that the Q is a mixture of the X and M cameras. 

A few weeks later I bought the Q and was ready to shoot in London to work on my project Tales on Shoreditch.

With this hands on review I don’t want to get too much into the specs. We all know they are brilliant and promising. I highly recommend the review of the Leica Q from Torsten Overgaard. It helped me a lot to find my workflow with the Q.

After shooting with the Q for almost 4 weeks I am sharing my first impressions on the camera.

The 28mm lens  

The 28 mm Summilux ASPH lens is fantastic, fast, sharp to the edges with beautiful color rendering! The image quality is superb! I would say that the Image quality comes close to the M240 files. 

Leica is selling the Q as a perfect camera for architecture, landscape and street photography. I totally agree - even so that for street photography you have to be clear that you need to get very close to your subject. 

This can be a real burner for some street photographers who are afraid getting too close to the subject. I think with a bit of training you will feel well - especially when you are coming from 35mm. The Q is nearly soundless. Shooting from the hip is no problem, but I found the camera a bit too bulky for close up shots. I like to be invisible when I document life around me. I always try to get the most intimate moment of the subject - holding up the Q 1 meter just in front of a face of a subject is not very invisible. 

I also used the Q for portraits… same here - to get a real nice close up - you need to get very close and most people don’t feel comfortable with it.

The Q comes with a Zoom mode where you can shoot in 35mm and 50mm. The 35mm and 50mm image will be just cropped jpeg. The Original DNG will always be in 28mm. When you are uploading the files into Lightroom you will see the cropped image of the DNG & jpeg. If you want to reframe the DNG, you just need to go into the cropping tool, where you can see the original 28mm file.

DNG or jpeg?  

I really like the outcome of the DNG files of the Q - even so they look a bit too clinical. The processing is easy and u need just little tweaks and turns to get a great result. The Q just shoots jpeg or DNG & jpeg. I never understood why Leica is not offering just shooting in the DNG mode. The jpegs are so so - and so you are forced to shoot DNG & jpeg. I set the jpegs into the Monochrom mode - to compare the color image to a Black & White version. The B&W rendering is great - not much processing needed. 

The Leica Q is a 24 Megapixel camera. You have to be clear that you’ll need a lot of space of your hard drive - especially when you are shooting DNG & jpeg. The DNG file size per image is around 43MB and the jpeg around 10 MB. My MacBookPro is not the newest version anymore and so I had some difficulties uploading the files to my computer. It took ages - but I finally found out that Lightroom 6 and Lightroom 5 site by site were the problem.   

Finally I decided to erase the jpegs and give my hard drive more space. Now I decide from photo to photo if want a Black & White version. 

AF/MF  

The AF is actually fast and precise. In the beginning I had some problems to find the right set up and so I got some blurred shots, which came out very artistic. Shooting with the continuous AF is an issue. Yesterday I tried to take pictures with the continuous AF of our dog running around… Most of the shots were out of focus. But to be honest - the Q is not made for sport photography. 

Manual focusing is a joy. There are a few settings I would recommend. Leica offers a function where the display enlarges the middle section of the image to show more details of your subject. There are 2 modes - 3 times and 6 times zoom mode. I used to focus with it, but it is not possible to focus and compose the image at the same time. That is why I changed my settings just to focus peaking. Now I focus and compose at the same time.

Macro Mode  

I use the Macro Mode just from time to time - so I am not experienced in shooting Macro. All I can say is that twisting the focus ring into MacroMode is pretty sexy. It was a brilliant idea of Leica. The images look fantastic and the bokeh is just bokelicious. I just noticed that the Macro Mode starts at aperture 2.8. But I heard that this is normal.

The big Question - is the Q the new M?

Well - no… That has especially something to do that the M is an Rangefinder and the Q is more like a point and shoot camera. Both cameras have their advantages but they are different in their usage. 

Is the Q the right camera for you?

I would recommend the Q always if you like to shoot with AF. Using the camera for architecture and landscape is a joy - for street photography you have to be clear that you have to go very close to your subject.  The price of 4000€ is not cheap. Be sure that you want to invest such an amount of money in a point and shoot camera with a fixed lens. But with the Q you’ll get a camera with superb build and image quality and a super fast AF. 

I for myself prefer using the M camera. When I was in London, Leica UK supported me with a M240 and a 35mm Summilux lens for my project Tales on Shoreditch. Equipped with the beautiful combo of the M and Q I have to admit that the Q stayed most of the time in my bag. The M feels just right for me and gives me more fun shooting with it.

My advice is always that you should choose a camera which feels right for you and your needs - and also for your budget. The best camera is the one you love to shoot with - this can be an iphone, point and shoot, Rangefinder, DSLR fromm any brand. 

If you are keen to have the extra Leica feeling but not sure about getting the Q or might think of selling the M for a Q I recommend going to your Leica dealer and test the camera first. Dont hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions about the Q. I would be pleased to help.

Angelo Pelle, Vintage Camera Strap - Hand made in Italy

L1280231-Bearbeitet-2.jpg

There is one thing I really don't like about the Leica M - that is the camera strap. I never understood why Leica is not shipping the Leica M with a simple leather camera strap like the Leica X? 

Therefore I was looking for a simple and practical leather neck strap. I love good design, craftsmanship and like to support companies who produce their products with passion and tradition. I finally found a beautiful Vintage Camera Strap by Angelo Pelle.  

The strap is hand made, of top quality leather from the tuscany and very resistant. It looks beautiful on the Leica M or any other camera. I highly recommend this strap. It comes in two lengths and with a fantastic price of 39,90 €! 

Shooting with a Rangefinder | Craig Semetko: How to use a Leica M Camera

I love shooting with a rangefinder - for me, the Rangefinder system is the perfect match for my kind of photography. Rangefinders are compact, discreet, intuitive to control and an extension to my eye.

Fabulous photographer Craig Semetko shares in this video how to use a Leica Mincluding techniques on focusing, and tips for expanding your photographic approach. For all those who might be interesting in shooting a Rangefinder get in contact with a Leica Dealer nearby. Leica is always kind and let you try their cameras.

Shooting Sport with the Leica M240

Last August I was testing the Leica M240 for a week. As a Leica M user I felt "home" after a few shots... The M is actually not meant to be for sport photography - but I was curious what I can get out of the camera shooting the Eisbach Surfer in Munich.

The M shoots 3 frames a second - not much compared with other cameras. But my goal wasn't to get as many shots out of the camera  - my goal was to find out if I could shoot action and freeze a certain moment. Would the camera respond quickly and would it be able to get the shot I want.

As I mentioned in my earlier review - the M240 is a joy to use! Everything feels just right, at the right position and it is easy to control the camera. There are just 3 simple ways to control light, ISO, aperture and time. The M is not having an autofocus, a menu for sport shooting, face detection or anything else. The M is simple and focusing on the essential. 

With manual focusing I am in total control of the shot. It takes some practice to get used to it. For most of my shots I pre-focus the scenery using the zone-focusing method. I highly recommend Thorsten Overgaards blog post where he writes about using the Leica M with giving lots of information and tips how to focus right.

For my shooting I had the M240 with a 35mm Summarit 2.5.  The weather was good and I was shooting all day long with ISO 200. I used aperture mode (f8) , pre-focued and was just focused on the action. The M240 was very responsive and so I could freeze great moments.

I wished I would have had more time to test the M240 - to experiment more in different settings, like how does the M240 behave while setting the camera to f8, 1/1000 and bump up the ISO or shoot wide open with 1/800 sec. and an auto ISO - and how could I freeze moments with a faster lens... I am sure I would have get much better results - but for the short time and was pretty happy with the result I got.

What showed me that day was, that the M240 is a great partner on your side for almost any situations. For me the Leica Rangefinder is my most favorite tool to use. It feels just right as an extension to my eye which I can use and trust blindly.  

Test Drive #YouAndLeicaM - Final Thoughts

Here are my final thoughts about the Leica M240 after testing the camera for nearly a week. First of all I wanna thank the Leica Store in Munich for letting me test the M240 for a whole week.

I am a Leica user for a couple of years now  and always liked Leica for their craft-ship and tradition, the love for design & simplicity. It is always a joy to work with Leica cameras and so it was with the M240.

Handling.

The M240 brings it to the point. Leica has improved a lot the M which helps to make your workflow easier and faster. Everything feels right - at the right position - the new discreet shutter sound is fantastic. I loved the new manual shutter speed dial for the exposure settings. The new Live View modus felt a bit weird in the beginning with manual focusing. But it was helpful in certain situations and with a little bit of practice I was able to focus very well with it. 

The image quality.

The image quality is superb! The images are clear, sharp and detailed. For me personally they looked a tiny bit too clear, too perfect. Someone on the web compared the DNG files of the M240 and the M9 - it seems that the M240 lost a bit of sharpness compared to the M9.

The ISO - fantastic! The B&W conversation and filters - excellent! The color files are coming out a bit different with the M240 - but they are still looking good.

The images of the M240 feel just right - there is not much editing needed. This camera is a blast! 

Video.

...mmh, this is the only thing I didn't like. The results were to shaky. I guess for good results the usage of a tripod is necessary. Video is always nice to have - but honestly the quality on the M240 isn't good. My iphone will get a better result - but hey, this camera is for shooting pictures and not for filming the new Scorsese movie.

Final thoughts.

The M240 feels just right! The camera was overall a joy to use. A workhorse and nearly perfect for every situation. 

Would I buy a M240?

Paying 6.200 € for a camera body is not peanuts. You have to feel right to make such a big investment. I for myself can tell - I am looking for a camera which helps me to transform my vision. I want to express something with my images and the camera is the tool which helps me to bring my vision alive. I absolutely would buy the M240. This camera is versatile!  Fantastic for clean files for commissioned or personal work and awesome for artistic and experimental work.

The test drive of the M240 is still going till 31. October 2014. I highly recommend to get in touch with the M experience.

Here are a few shots I took last week with the M240.

You and Leica M

This week is a special one. A view weeks ago I got the newsletter from Leica with an invitation to take part on Leicas M Test Drive. For those who haven't heard of it, have a look on Leicas website, download your invitation and make an appointment at your Leica dealer.

I just came back home from my Leica dealer in Munich with the M and a 35mm Summarit.  The guys from the Munich team were so generous that I can test the M for a whole week! Thanks again for that oppertunity.

This week will be a testing week! I am very excited and made the plan to play tourist in my hometown Munich. This will be a huge challenge for me - as much I love Munich - as much I dislike it for street photography. Everything is beautiful & clean and sometimes it feels tough to find interesting sceneries and contrasts. But I will give my best!

A year ago I already had the chance to test the M for 30 minutes. It was just a quick get to know each other. I took a few frames and compared it with the files of the Fuji x-Pro1  and wrote a blog post "Back to old habits... Or looking forward..? Leica or Fuji?" This time I am having more time and I try to find an answer if I like the new CMOS sensor - or prefer the CCD sensor of the M8 / M9, have a detailed look on the B&W images and the colored ones - and try to compare the Fuji x-files with the M-files and figure out if the money is worth to invest.

From the first hours with the M I have to say the camera feels great in the hand. As a M user I already feel home.  There are a few new functions like Liveview, Video etc.. which I am looking forward to explore. 

I already took a few frames on my way back home. I used the camera with the settings I got, auto white balance and auto ISO set till max. 800. When I got back home I immediatly loaded the files into Lightroom and phew, what can I say HOLY Sh... this files are already blown me away. I didn't do much with the files or colors - just some straightening... The Image quality is superb. I am curious to compare the CMOS and CCD Image Quality. I think the M8/M9 produce a "natural kind of grain" in their files - which gives them a kind of soul. I know that the M files are much "cleaner" and I am curious if I can find also "a soul" in the M. I am very much looking forward to this week and can't wait to share my results with you. Please let me know if you have any questions about the testing or any wish what I should test.


Film Styles for Capture One

A week ago Alexander Svet, a Phase One Certified Professional, asked me to review their new Film Styles presets for Capture One. They contacted me through an older post of my blog, where I compared the x-file rendering in Aperture, Lightroom & Capture One. 

The film style presets is a set of 100 styles that can be applied to automatically processed images in Capture One photo editor. The set includes 58 color and 42 black and white styles and is available for download for 49,95$.

Each style is designed to make the most of Capture One's capabilities and to replicate the popular film effects including Kodak Portra, Ilford Delta, Kodak T-MAX, Agfa Scala, Polaroid and many more. 

Capture One.

In an earlier blog post I wrote that Capture One is in my opinion the best RAW converter on the market. They get most out of the images - highlights and details are not comparable with Lightroom or Aperture. It is an awesome software - but I have to admit - I use it just from time to time... Why? Well, I don't like the workflow - the GUI is too complex with all different editing areas & tools, the library system is a bit confusing etc and at the end it doesn't fit into my workflow. I like everything more minimal, easy and clearly structured. That is why 85% of the time I use Lightroom - for more detailed work I use Capture One and use the pro's of it. 

What about the film presets?

The installation and set up was easy.  I love that you can put the different styles in a B&W and color folder - that keeps everything simple and organized. 

What about the different styles?

I wanted to compare the C1 presets with the VSCO presets which I am using for a while now. But after installing and starting to compare both presets I have to admit, that I can't do a detailed comparison. Both softwares are too different in the look and usage. I attached some RAW images from my Fuji x-Pro1 with the same film preset styles of C1 and VSCO. I did no editing - I just removed the grain effect from the VSCO presets in Lightroom (Film Style presets for C1 can't show any grain rendering).

Capture One / Film styles

Lightroom / VSCO

My final thoughts on the Film styles for Capture One.

Well, first of all I have to say that it is nearly impossible to show the same result of a digital image to a film image. Film still has a unique texture and character - and it always will be. But, VSCO and Film Styles for Capture One did a really good job - both have their own character. 

For me a preset is always a starting point of my own vision. Presets help to start and go deeper into the editing process. But at the end of the day the photographer needs to feel that his images have the right look and feel.

Pros
+ clearly arranged
+ better details, highlights & shadows (...of Capture One)
+ fantastic B&W presets with more contrast than VSCO
+ good prize 

ConS 
- no grain simulation - which should always be in film simulation
- no extra toolkit for Auto WB, Fade, Grain, Contrast etc..

Would I buy the Film Styles?

Yes! There are still a few things missing but the price is fantastic and for Capture One users it's a fantastic opportunity to save some time on the workflow. VSCO & NIK Software is still not available for Capture One - so the Film Styles are an alternative for C1 users.

I really hope that the upcoming version of Capture One will be more improved. After the death of Aperture, Capture One has a huge possibility to get more customers if they improve their GUI & library by just making it more simple. C1 is the best RAW converter and helps to get out most of the pictures but if it is still too complicated and pricy - people wouldn't jump on the Capture One train. Then it will just be the Pro-Photographer tool, like it is now. 

I hope I could help a bit with my review - but the best is always to try things out. There is a free Capture One Test Version and 5 free Film Styles for C1. Enjoy your own test!