Some Leica Testing

Hobbies. I guess if I have any hobbies than taking pictures must be one of them? And, truth be told, it's not so much "taking pictures" as "taking pictures with a Leica." I snuck into Leica ownership via craiglist and great deals on barely used second hand equipment (shoutout to my amazing dealer Ken Hansen—google him if you're in the market yourself). But last month I had a couple of chances to try out some first hand Leica goods firsthand. 

First, there was this photo expo at the Javitts Center where Leica had a booth and was very patient with everyone asking to try out all their different lenses and cameras. The first one I tried out was their 21mm Summilux f/1.4, a very fast very wide lens I have been curious about for such a long time even though I have a hard time filling the frame with just my 28mm lens. None of these pictures are going to be too interesting since I was constrained to the booth area for taking them and Square Space doesn't let you click on pictures and make them bigger, but here they are.

After the Summilux I took a look at the smaller but slower 21mm f/3.4 Super-Elmar and got an interesting little lesson on zone focusing. It was little and handy and neat, I could see why you'd pick it over a monster like the 21mm if you didn't need the speed.

After shooting wide I tried out the 75mm f/2.4 Summarit and 75mm f/2.0 Summicron, I really liked the feel of the Summarit and, shooting at ISO 3200 in the convention center, didn't see much a difference in needing speed in that environment. I tell myself I'm good with lenses (I haven't bought one for over two years!) but if I "needed" another one, it might be a 75?


Summicron (missed focus a bit I'll admit):

After the 75's I dared to ask if I could try out the new-ish Summicron-APO 50mm f/2 ASPH, which so many people say is the most perfect lens ever made, a triumph of the most advanced possible lens design and engineering and ingenuity and etc. etc. to produce a lens that's a few impossible percentage points better than anything else out there. It makes me think of swimming where you'd work all season to improve your best time by less than a second. To my untrained eye, basically I couldn't tell any difference between it and my standard 50mm Summicron non-APO, non-ASPH with this first generic high-ISO picture 

BUT I was more impressed by this photo, the subject separation of my lens on the glass from the other lenses and (too bad you can't click to make this bigger) the incredible sharpness and clarity of the numbering on the barrel of my lens. Granted, I didn't try taking an identical picture with my lens afterwards, BUT it seemed impressive to me. I guess that's why the APO is $8000? YES, they just handed me an $8,0000 lens and let me mess around with it, but also, YES, Leica made an $8000 50mm f/2.0 lens. The price of perfection!

For the sake of attempts at a comparison, I then took this picture with my normal Summicron that I bought for a song off a guy that I met up with inside a Chase bank vestibule.

So that's all I've got right now from the world of the M. But a little while later I was informed that the Leica store was doing free one day try-outs of the SL, Leica's new pro mirrorless camera—something of a monstrous Sony A7r competitor, if you can compare it to anything. I was very excited for this opportunity (as I was two years ago when they lent me an M240, and now here I am shooting with an M240). They included a 24-90mm lens with the camera and, as I have NEVER shot with a zoom or auto focus, it was a weird reverse learning curve (since most people complain about the adjustment to using manual primes on an M after switching from their DSLR's or whatever) for me. Also, I had never carried such a heavy set up before, the body weighed just a little more than my M but the lens itself was something like two and a half pounds, bringing it to a total of 4 or 5 pounds for the whole system. I woke up sore after my first day's shooting, was not expecting that. Also, a lot of people make a big deal about the electronic viewfinder on the SL, saying it's the best and most lifelike they've ever used, but since I've never used an electronic viewfinder before, just the nice clear glass of my M, it sure seemed like looking through a computer to me! Still, the camera was fun. Would love to have a chance to shoot it with my M lenses (possible via an adaptor) or the 50mm f/1.4 they've got coming out for the SL next year.

Ok, here's a lot of pictures that chart my picking the camera up in Soho, walking east, then walking down through Chinatown to City Hall Park, then over to West Broadway, then through Times Square, then taking the camera to church, then walking around Lincoln Center and my neighborhood that night, then taking the camera down to the Met the next morning (Halloween morning, by the way) before returning it to the store in Soho.