The Leica Q never fails to impress

The Leica Q never fails to impress

It’s been about 6 months since I’ve purchased my Leica Q after my test drive with one thanks to Leica Store DC and to this day, it is the best camera I have ever owned. If you look at the current market of premium point-and-shoot cameras that have an EVF, the Leica Q easily stands on its own and as it’s getting closer to 3 years since its introduction, it still has no rival (the RX1R Mk II doesn’t count since it doesn’t have an EVF).

So who is the Leica Q for?

If you suffer from G.A.S. and care about the spec-sheet? The Leica Q covers that.

Are you interested in getting into the Leica eco-system without jumping headfirst with your wallet? Get the Leica Q.

Do you want incredible images quality, the “Leica look”, that only Leica cameras can do?

It just checks off all the boxes for me.

  • Lightweight
  • Full-frame CMOS Sensor
  • 24 Megapixels
  • 3.4MP EVF
  • Leica “M” caliber optics – it comes attached with a 28mm F/1.7 Summilux ASPH
  • One of the fastest AF cameras in the world
  • Small-size considering it has an EVF and a full-frame sensor
  • Legendary build quality
  • You can use Panasonic batteries for it, which are half the price of the Leica batteries
  • The lack of interchangeable lenses forces you to not worry about the lens selection and frees you up to just shoot, thus there is no “lens anxiety” (Thanks Chris)

This post might be a bit short but I can’t emphasize that the Leica Q may be the only camera that most people need.

Photos from the Leica Q at a recent Laos New Years festival. Images are pretty much “stock”

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Eat Everything – Union Market, DC

Eat Everything – Union Market, DC

I guess you could call this Part II of my previous post since it happened on the same day and in the same city, but this was easily my favorite part of the day.

After we separated from the Instagram meet at the Capitol, we all then decided to make the trip to Union Market for late lunch. It wasn’t a long walk per say, but it definitely burned some calories and I’ve managed to hit most of my walking goals for the day by the time we’ve reached our destination.

Union Market

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Union Market, if you don’t know already, is a place where you can artisan food and organic groceries located in an industrial park area where most people go for their trendy Instagram photos.

Amy and I were pretty excited as we both were planning for this all day, but what awaited us exceeded our expectations.

After you pass the picnic tables and the assortment of chairs filled with people stuffing food in their mouths, you enter through the large glass door – where you will suddenly become overwhelmed with the smell of food.

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Your senses are on “can I have some more?” mode

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Right away your eyes dart left and right as you try to take in what is going on around you.

“Where do I even start?”

You’ll ask yourself this as your natural instincts tell you to start from the left of the building and then walk around the various kiosks serving anywhere from Asian food to Ethiopian delicacies.

“Am I in heaven?”

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“Am I in heaven?”

I’m pretty sure that was what I thought when I walked past the first couple of kiosks that served what looked like…really fucking good food.

I swiveled by head around to take in all the information around me and then checked on Amy to make sure she didn’t get swallowed by the crowds (or her hunger), but sure enough, she was smiling as she was recording a video clip on Snapchat.

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Amy and I both couldn’t decide where to eat first, so walked around and lapped the building until we saw Ben holding some Korean tacos.

“EMPANADAS….!”

I looked over to what sounded like Amy and sure enough, she was gleefully pointing at the empanada shop next to us while I was ordering my Coconut Thai Basil Dumpling from what looked like a soul food kiosk that specialized in chicken broth based soups.

I’m telling you this now…shit just got real…

Amy loves empanadas and it’s probably one of her top favorite foods of all time (there are literally hundreds of foods that she likes) – actually, I think she just likes everything.

While my food was getting made, I continued to take picture to capture some street photography indoors.

So on with the pictures…

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A Seafood Bar
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Indian Food

 

 

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Ramen shop

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A couple of kids playing with Arya

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Amy eating her second meal – Shrimp and Gritz

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Walk with the Locals – A hashtag meetup

Walk with the Locals – A hashtag meetup

For those of you that have never been to these hashtag meets, in this case, @walkwithlocals – it’s a meetup of sorts with a bunch of local instagram photographers that go on a photowalks in various parts of the DC area.

The meetup location and time was at the historical Lincoln Park, east of the Capitol at 11:32am. Despite my best efforts of leaving my place early and grabbing coffee at my favorite coffee shop, alas using the Silver Line on the Metro from Reston-Whiele to Eastern Market took longer than anticipated, therefore Amy and I ended up being 30 minutes late.

We were lucky, however, because by the time we were about 3 blocks away from the park, we could see a large crowd of people walking towards the Capitol.

“Hmmm…I wonder who these people could be?”

The massive mob of people turned out to be the exact group we were trying to meet up with and if the size of the group didn’t give it away, all the cameras around each person’s neck gave it away.

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Walking on East Capitol Street

Strangers from various parts both in and out of the city, showed up today to meet with other photographers with their love for photography. You will meet people of all different backgrounds – from lifestyle photographers to food photographers.

When you’re surrounded by people with a common interest such as photography, you can’t help but notice the gear slung over their shoulders and necks.

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@bendrillick and @anguyen224

General Survey on DSLRs

Most of the people (around 80%) had both Canon and Nikon DSLRs with kit lenses, while the small 1% came with their full-frame counterparts with f/2.8 zooms. The remaining 19% were the mirrorless crew (Fujifilm and Sony) and one shooter with a Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) with a 50mm Summilux.

This mental survey reminded me that majority of people still used DSLRs, but mirrorless made a big presence as well compared to where we were a few years ago.

I have an affinity for mirrorless cameras and DSLRs are going the way of the dinosaurs, people will get tired of carrying bigger and clunkier systems, unless you still think carrying a DSLR makes you look “professional” to impress people or clients. Don’t get me started with that

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Once the group reached the Capitol, some people just hung out and socialized – trading business cards, introduced each other and some were partaking in a couple of photoshoots.

I myself, was talking to strangers – more interested in hearing about how they got into photography and how they grew into becoming better photographers.

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After about 30 minutes of socializing, we took a group picture in front of the Capitol building and departed ways.

Most of the people planned to make a stop at Union Market and that is where our adventure will head to next in the next update.

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Photos taken with the Leica M9 + SUMMICRON 50mm f/2 V3

FLICKR

Friday Happy Hour – Ocelot Brewery and Leicas

Friday Happy Hour – Ocelot Brewery and Leicas

You know what I love about having happy hour with a group of friends that all happen to love photography? It turns into our own low key version of “Beers and Cameras” and today’s location was at Ocelot Brewery, located in the industrial park area of Dulles, Virginia.

With a venue chosen and gear packed, today in particular was a special day because some of us were introducing our new Leicas for the first time.

Ben recently picked up a second-hand Leica CL.

Asif picked up a second-hand Leica M5.

Yours truly picked up a second-hand Leica M9 with a 50mm Summicron f/2 V3 (1969-1979). There is a fantastic first-hand review about the legendary Leica M9 from someone that came from DSLRs: ShootTokyo

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Right away, one of the first things I’ve noticed while I ran these photos through Lightroom is the lovely color rendering and the contrast due to the combination of the Leica M9’s CCD sensor (developed by Kodak back in 2009) and the vintage Summicron from the ’70s.

The LCD Screen is Shit

The other thing that I have to get used to is not using the rear LCD screen to “chimp” after taking the shot. The LCD screen is considered “vintage” now in 2018 (think of the time when we all thought the original iPhone had “good screen” back in 2007-2010). The screen is so shitty that I don’t even bother using it to actually check the photo other than to check my exposure.

 

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ISO 800

Don’t even think about exceeding the ISO past 800. We’re talking about old sensor technology where ISO 800 was considered “high-tech” back in 2009. Shoot the Leica M9 like a digital-film camera: ignore the LCD screen, learn to use manual controls, and understand manipulating exposure/light both in and off camera.

 

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56K of Buffering

After you take a photo, give it about 10 seconds for the buffer to fully clear before your next shot. Due to the slower-than-2018 processor technology and the M9’s finicky nature with high-speed memory cards (use 16GB 40-45 MB/s cards only). Again, treat the M9 like an old-school digital-film camera.

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What is Sharpness?

Despite these quirks (it’s almost a decade old), the camera is capable of pulling some amazing images from the sensor thanks to the CCD sensor designed to simulate Kodachrome film stock. Paired with a Leica M lens (Summicron f/2.0 to a Summilux f/1.4), you will get that amazing micro-contrast “3D” pop effect known as the “Leica look” that no other camera on the planet can emulate.

I’ve been drunk with this stuff since my Leica Q and its excellent Summilux 28mm f/1.7. That lens is just stunning.

Remember – you can always sharpen photos in post, but you cannon create micro-contrast in post.

Is this worth the price of admission for a Leica lens? That depends on you.

What Leica does understand better than anyone else, is that absolute sharpness (resolving power) of the lens means little if the images don’t look great. Something I’ve also been guilty of chasing since my Sony A7 full-frame days with my Carl Zeiss and G Master lenses. I loved how sharp they looked, but the images looked cold and sterile in comparison.

Almost too clinical.

No soul.

No character.

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A Sincere Camera

Despite these drawbacks and limitations with the Leica M9, there is also something liberating about these limitations.

No AF – learn to take your time and learn to use zone focusing like a proper rangefinder camera. You will soon learn that this method is even faster than auto-focus (unless you use the Leica Q, just throw that guy in AF 99% of the time and you will get a lot of keepers).

No EVF – learn to expose and compose with your eyes prior to taking the shot.

Slow Buffer – you can’t run and gun with this camera. This will force you to be patient and compose properly.

No LIVE View – Use the viewfinder like you’re supposed to.

Shit LCD Screen – Don’t even bother checking your images.

Pretty much what this camera is trying to tell you is this: “it’s on you”

This camera will make you a better photographer.

no

It will force you into becoming a better photographer.

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Summicron-M 50mm f/2.0 V3

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Asif’s Leica M5
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Ben’s Leica CL
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My favorite photo of the night

 

X100F – Classic Chrome Series 1

X100F – Classic Chrome Series 1

I guess you could call this update a proper outing with my “new” X100F since I’ve sold it in my last X100F update after purchasing the Leica Q.  The only difference being that this time, I picked up the black body instead of the silver one, because you know…want to stay inconspicuous for those candid photos.

One of the few things that drew me back to the X100F (other than my original reason here), were the following:

  1. The awesome hybrid rangefinder – to be frank, I’m having a lot of fun using a OVF Rangefinder style camera. I personally turn off the LCD Live-View on the back of the camera and strictly compose via OVF. It’s overall preparing me for my ultimate end goal.
  2. The compact body with a 24MP sensor with the 23mm f/2 lens (35mm equivalent) which is my favorite focal length for street photography.
  3. The amazing in-camera film simulations, such as Acros, Provia and my personal favorite: classic chrome.

While everyone on social media paste on filters to give their photos a moody tone or film look, the Fuji X series cameras have these “filters” baked onto the photos straight out of camera, which cuts down on most of my post-processing.

I personally use the built-in simulations and add a touch of my own adjustments to add a bit more contrast.

Example below:

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Reston, VA – Fujifilm X100F – Classic Chrome

Imagine your workflow where you don’t have to go crazy with the heavy RAW (.RAF for Fujifilm) files, but using the lighter JPEG files instead?

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Speaking of end goals, I originally took the Metro into the city because I thought my Leica Q workshop was Saturday, but it actually ended up being the following Sunday.

Needless to say, I felt dumb but still enjoyed my time playing with all the Leica toys in the shop and then walking around the city a bit more to capture some more street photography with the Fujifilm.

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To end it here, I’m thoroughly enjoying my time shooting with the X100F using the hybrid rangefinder and the images that come out of the camera is nothing short of satisfying.

To see more, you can follow my dedicated classic chrome instagram account here: @urban_chrome

Flickr

New EDC Camera: Fujifilm X70

New EDC Camera: Fujifilm X70

The original purpose of my purchase of the Fujifilm X100F was to have a compact, everyday carry camera that I could just throw in my jacket pocket or my bag, therefore always having a real photographic tool with better quality than the iPhone.

The iPhone X takes excellent pictures, don’t get me wrong, but the process of “photographing” is something to be desired and everything shot with my iPhone usually gets lost in the abyss that is Apple Photos. However, when I take photos on a dedicated camera, I feel more disciplined to not take my photos for granted.

The photos will rarely feel expendable if you use an actual camera. They typical hold more value – either due to image quality or how it made you feel when you took the picture.

The occasional slideshow of your weekend trip with your friends may garner the occasional nod, but then people will usually forget about them – rarely ever seen again.

If you want to go even deeper in appreciation for photos, look into printing Instax photos. I promise you that those little photos will be worth more to you, your friends and family than your iPhone slideshow ever hope to be.

There is a zen-like experience of actually taking the time to take photos, rather than snap and go. 

Obviously, carrying a compact camera with you on a daily basis is not for everyone, but I personally don’t like to waste my time taking shitty and forgettable photos, therefore it’s worthwhile for me that enjoy capturing moments in higher quality.

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Side Gripe: It makes me absolutely cringe when people use their camera phones during their “once-in-a-lifetime” trip to somewhere and try to share their photos with me on their small screens like they’re weekend photos of their family cat.

Stop it.

If you want to share your photos of your amazing trip, share it on dedicated photo site like Flickr or something where people can actually feel emotionally compelled to appreciate your photos as much as you were when you took them.

“But I don’t want to carry a camera when I travel! They’re so cumbersome.”

One word: Mirrorless

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Ahem.

This brings me back to the X100F.

The X100F quickly became less of a pocket camera due to the addition of the thumbs  up grip and the lens hood. Since it no longer served the purpose of being my “pocketable” camera, it soon became a stablemate with my other “serious” cameras: the Leica Q and the Olympus PEN-F. Cameras I take with me when I plan to go out and take photos.

So this brought me back to square one: I need another EDC camera.

Originally I’ve picked up a brand new Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX10 pocket camera with the excellent 24-72 equivalent f/1.4-f/2.8 zoom lens. However, I’ve been lukewarm about the camera for several reasons:

  1. The camera was not comfortable to hold and it was terribly slippery.
  2. The start-up time was noticeably slow due to the requirement for the zoom lens to extend out, even at its widest end.
  3. The image quality was decent, but I blame my standards from owning bigger sensors and my lack of tolerance to poor high ISO rendering that the Panasonic had. It would easily hit 4 digit ISO too easily.

To cut it short, I traded the camera with a member on Fred-Miranda and picked up a Fujifilm X70.

x70_front_silver-630x396

To put it succinctly: this camera is tiny.

It’s actually smaller in length than my iPhone X, but the caveat here is that it is definitely thicker.

But here is the real important part about this: it’s so small that you can actually take with you everyday in your purse, jacket pocket, or your everyday carry bag.

You’ll also get image quality like this (and have useable RAW files if you want to edit them in Lightroom):

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Using the built-in “Classic Chrome” film simulation – no filters needed!

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I’ll make an update on this in the future but my point is this: get a camera.

Spoiler Alert: A dedicated camera will blow the shit out of your iPhone.

Also, using the “too big” to carry as an excuse is becoming redundant as mirrorless cameras like the Fujifilm X70 is tiny, but if you want to use the camera on your phone to share onto social media for instant-gratification because you’re impatient, then I can’t help you there. 🙂

Getting Inked: Amy’s First Tattoo

Getting Inked: Amy’s First Tattoo

“This was a long time coming…”

Ever since I’ve known Amy, I knew she always wanted to get a tattoo eventually, but it wasn’t until recently she finally decided to pull the trigger.

A tattoo artist known as @jk.tat from Queens, NY, was in town this weekend at a local tendy Hair Salon called “Be Scene Studios“, a hair salon that is more in line like a urban hipster hangout lounge, but also some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

I’ll also add that I loved the interior decorating in the studio.

All images were shot with the Leica Q

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“…you’ll meet some of the coolest people.”

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Now, I’m not an expert on all things beauty (or whatever is considered trendy since I care more about functionality and usefulness), but I couldn’t help but be impressed with their “lab” (or so I call it), where they mix their own hair color recipe in-house.

What looked like boxes of camera film, turned out to be small containers that looked like colored toothpaste, where each employee could mix the colors to their customer’s wishes.

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The “Lab”
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The “toothpaste” – not the official term
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Loved the Instax photos

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Jen striking a pose
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@jk.tat herself working on a customer’s tattoo
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One of the many lounges

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She could play an elf in the Lord of the Rings
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Wide-open studio

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As Amy’s turn was coming up, you could tell she was anxious (as if her leg shaking didn’t give it away), but at the same time, very excited to finally get her first tattoo.

Despite her anxiety, she still manages to strike a pose for the camera.

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“Que Será, Será” – “what will be, will be”
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Getting wiped down

Needless to say, Amy was very happy with her first tattoo and I was very impressed how it turned out. Maybe I should look into that Leica aperture ring tattoo around my arm?

…hmmm

Link to Full-Size Photos: Flickr

Instagram: @cosmotographer