The Leica Diary, Part II – Coming To Grips

The Leica Diary, Part II – Coming To Grips

Part 1 of The Leica Diary can be found here. Hold the Leica in your hand and the first thing that goes through your mind is, “Dang, that 50mm lens is tiny!” The second thing that goes through your mind is, “This is a full-frame camera? It’s… kinda small.” The Leica looks like a point and shoot. It doesn’t feel like a point-and-shoot, but it looks like one. Hold it in your hand and it feels… well, it feels like a piece of history. Which, given the fact that it isn’t all that different from the M-series film camera it succeeds, makes sense. In my hand, the Leica feels dense. There doesn’t appear to be any wasted space here, either. The shooting controls on this 1.3lb body are sparse and easily reachable with my right hand, so my left stays on the lens. Speaking of the lens, a number of Leica’s lenses have this nifty little notch towards the bottom that makes focusing the lenses a lot easier. With your right hand on the camera and your left supporting the bottom, your left index finger drops into that notch perfectly. On the 50mm f/2.5 Summarit, a short, perhaps 120º throw moves you through the lens’ full focal range. I’ll have a post on focusing with the Leica later (it really does deserve its own post), but suffice it to say that it’s very, very different from manually focusing a lens on your DSLR. The top has just two controls – the shutter, which is in the center of the on/off/shooting mode switch, and the shutter speed dial. Again, painstakingly simple...
The Leica Diary, Part 1: Introduction

The Leica Diary, Part 1: Introduction

These days, it looks like every major camera manufacturer is coming out with a new addition to the MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera) class of bodies and lenses. The latest, of course, is Canon, with its EOS-M camera. These units, typically smaller than your average DSLRs, have been getting better and better, packing some serious punch into a very small form factor. Thing is, in all the hype behind cameras like the EOS-M and Fuji’s X100 and X-Pro1 bodies, people forget that MILCs have been around before companies like Sony, Fuji, and Olympus made them popular. Way back in 2006, a good three years before Olympus came out with its retro-styled Micro-Four-Thirds-based camera, Leica introduced its first digital rangefinder, the M8. Powered by a 10.3MP crop sensor, the body retained almost all of the classic Leica styling that’s been aped so much now, and kept the lens mount the same, so that almost all M-series lenses could fit onto this new digital body. The M9, which BorrowLenses.com carries, kept the same general body shape of the M8, but upped the sensor to an 18.3MP full-frame sensor. It also added some very nice features, including better high ISO performance, a better EV compensation system, and exposure bracketing (though it feels kinda weird to try and shoot HDR with a Leica). Leica users also happen to be some of the biggest zealots most passionate folks out there. I’m not talking about the rich guys who like to hang an M9 from their neck for the cache that the little red dot on the camera’s body provides. I’m talking about the guys...
Photo Finds, June 18, 2012 – Daniel Milnor

Photo Finds, June 18, 2012 – Daniel Milnor

Welcome to Photo Finds, a feature where we point you to some of the best photography around the web. A Leica, a Hasselblad, a few rolls of film. That’s pretty-much photographer Daniel Milnor’s ammunition when he goes out shooting. Whether it’s along the streets of Paris or in the wilds of Machu Pichu, Daniel’s style of documentary photography stands out head and shoulders above the crowd. Daniel refers to his work as “classic Black and White documentary work,” and I think the description really does fit. There’s an air of old-world richness to his images that’s evocative of the golden age of black and white photography (think Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, and Robert Frank), and some of them might as well have been taken in the mid-20th century. There are two things that I find particularly fascinating about Daniel’s work. The first is the curated nature of the work he posts.Every image I see online seems to be carefully considered, and presented with a certain reverence. Daniel doesn’t indulge in the kind of spray-and-pray photography I see so often (and that I myself am sometimes guilty of). Rather, he seems to shoot and edit with care, and his body of work reflects that attention to detail. The Leica Files, a series of video posts that Daniel has been putting up on his website, adds credence to that hypothesis. Here, he takes one image per video post and talks about it. Normally used to seeing a ton of content packed into as little time as possible, this hit-the-brakes-hard approach is almost a relief for me. The second thing that captures my...
Tip of the week: An adaptable camera system

Tip of the week: An adaptable camera system

Every Thursday, we will post a photography-related tip here. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at blog@borrowlenses.com. Today we’re going to talk about a video camera called the Panasonic AG AF100. The AF100 is from a family of products that adhere to the Micro Four-Thirds standard. So far, Olympus and Panasonic are the two manufacturers making cameras for this standard, but a number of other manufacturers have also signed on to produce add-ons for it. Sigma, Carl Zeiss, Lensbaby and Voigtlander, all venerable manufacturers, have signed on to make lenses for it. But the true power of this standard comes from the manufacturers that have built adapters that let you bring a variety of non Micro Four-Thirds lenses to this platform. Voigtlander and Redrock Micro are some of the companies that make adapters that will let you use Leica, Canon and Nikon lenses on a Micro Four-Thirds camera. The image above is of a Canon-mount CP.2 lens from Zeiss, with an adapter that let us put it on an Olympus E-P2 Micro Four-Thirds camera. There was a little play in the fit, but it worked well enough. The CP.2 was a lens designed specifically for video. With the same adapter shown in the image, you can also adapt that lens to the Panasonic AF100, opening up a wide range of cinematic possibilities. But that’s not all. Take that Nikon F mount adapter we rent and you can take Nikon’s...