Originally published on my blog
... but I wanted to put it here as well...
Yeah, I know: Another nail in the future coffin of film; I like the Leica M8.
And even though this is meant for the people on Uber.com and deviantART.com I know that itll make its way to the fondler-sites. Seriously, if youre one of the fondlers and you dont like what I say, I dont friggin care. Trust me on that. You can comment. You can try and email
I dont care. You can have your fondler-audience; I prefer an audience of people who can make photos. Owning and fondling gear doesnt mean for a hot second you can do anything with it.
Back to the M8
Id be remiss if I didnt say I feel bad for liking it.
All of that said
I got the Em-Eight round the second week of May
Since that time I shot two rolls of film in the Em-Pee. In fact, the only time Ive been to my beloved lab yeah, Im a pussy because I dont process my own film and prints was to approve some fibre prints. When I went to pick up said prints J says to me, Whys there a For Lease sign up?
The home of my US$10 per roll processing, scanning and contact sheet service
its gone. Sold off. Merged. Not what it was. Its right across the street now; next door to the old building which was WireImage which is now part of the Death Star.
Old prices are gone.
Yes, it made me sad. Ah
Seriously, every time I picked up the M8 to make a photo
I thought of my friend and fellow film snob, Sev in Austria. I think of other people as well but for whatever reason
Sev comes to mind when I think about film shooters. I almost felt like I was betraying my film snobbery. My film-snob-friends. Myself?
Do not take it that Ive abandoned the tonality which is only film. Oh, sure, yeah, I know
there are those who populate deviantART and Flickr and all of the other sites and after adequate massaging
they can make it look almost like film. I know.
Theres just a bit of old-school left in me: Get the fucking image right
IN FUCKING CAMERA.
Film forces you to do that.
But digital lets you experiment more. I think.
In my world
a photo is dead once its made. It has to be adjusted in PhotoShop for slight colour balance correction, a bit of contrast, a bit of unsharp mask (because I dont like a camera doing that for me), a slight crop and a resize. Save at 8 or 10. Caption. Transmit.
you may have PRO after your name on Flickr
to be a real pro means a lot of things. First off, in terms of insurance and shit
a professional photographer means you make more than 80% of your income from photography. At its very base thats what it means. There are pro photographers on any boulevard hawking horrible product. P on your fucking camera doesnt fucking stand for Professional. Pro doesnt mean you have PRO after your name on Flickr. Trust me.
In the context of how Im a professional photographer, yes, I meet the insurance requirement for saying Im a professional photographer. Additionally, Im hired to go to ultra-exclusive places so that Im the eyes for the world. Honestly, sometimes when Ive put my MP up to my eye with my amazing fast-ass glass Ive thought, fuck
that was cool
Fucking, eh. Because if it was made with digital theres a chance that cool photo would have been seen by millions and gotten my client or clients more publicity but since it was film
it would wait 72 hours. In todays world 72 hours is death for a photo which I make in a professional context.
If its an editorial gig with a couple week lead time, no worries. But
if Im on a magazine closing deadline, anything shot with film is irrelevant.
Irrelevancy sucks. Ask a reality star six months after their last t.v. show aired what the fuck irrelevancy fucking feels like.
Not good I suspect.
And here comes a tool
which accepts my gorgeous fast Leica-M glass. Admittedly, when I first got to test one it was at the end of 2006 for a couple weeks. I know some of the fuckers who charge for their opinion on gear, which I dont really get, had it for longer and I think that made me a bit bitter.
Im a fucking shooter.
My blog and my opinions are adjuncts. I make money by being a photographer. Perhaps one day Ill make money from my blogs
but thatll be paid content
from some corporation
not from sub-fucking-scribers.
Perhaps I dont give a fuck if fondlers like me.
I couldnt get over the crop-factor or that magenta bullshit.
The camera which was FEDEXd to me in mid-May, though
replete with the newest firmware
and some IR-Cut filters
I love it.
Ive made 40gb of imagery with it in these few months. And
just so the fucking fondlers know
you dont have to shoot it RAW to make an outstanding image. Ive seen you guys who only shoot in RAW
Ive seen your original files
fucking blown the fuck out by 3 stops
by a few
Yep, save it with Capture One. Youre a pro.
Or at least you have PRO after your name on Flickr.
If shot the same way youd shoot chrome if you dont know what that is, you can stop reading and youre within a third of a stop of being perfect, the files produced with the M8 are fucking killer.
Ive found that when you know how you shoot and how the M8 shoots
Aperture Priority is pretty damn good. Like
I like it.
But I thought you hated the crop factor?
I prefer to shoot full-frame cameras like my 1Dss and 5Ds
Im over 1D mark 2s and 3s. Why? Because I can be.
with the M8
I can use my exceptional Leica glass. Isnt that what photography is all about? The glass? And
Ive learned to love the Leica M 28/2.0 Sumicron. Even with a bit of flash from the SF24-D, an IR-Cut filter and some light massaging in Photoshop
I get some nice material.
Material which has been published in newspapers, weeklies and monthlies both here in the You-ess-of-ay and all over the world.
The Jenny McCarthy photo I lead off with was the first event I was hired to cover where the M8 came long. I love shooting her. She loves making photos.
*picks up M8 and makes the ubiquitous airport photo whilst writing this in line for an airplane*
I love making photos with people who like making photos.
I still shoot the M6 TTL and MP and M3 when the lead time for publication isnt an hour from now. But
I can put a Leica in my digital work flow. The photos are relevant. And
I can make money from the photos! Im not saying I dont make money with my other Leicas
its just in a different context.
I can make atmosphere photos
And moments between cast members of televisions shows
Right along side my Canons. I view the M8 as an accoutrement to my Canons. And like the MP and the M6 TTL and the M3 for that matter
it goes largely unobserved
At a party. On the street. Or in my living room.
And I dont have to have my face hidden by some ginormous D-SLR
To make a photo of my little B.
Or the random guy sucking on a death stick. I say that because Im jealous
and still bitter about not being able to smoke.
I kinda think the M8, since I got it round the time I quit supporting American tobacco companies, may have helped in helping me stop smoking. Dunno how
but it feels that way.
Odd. Because right in the middle of shooting a photo of my lovely C and my even lovelier B
and the random fucker having a smoke break after making me a kabab
Ill shoot for Spanish Vogue
And the next night on a walk for gelato in the best neighborhood in Los Angeles I see the creepy fucking mannequin
Or in the most French-like café we have round our hood
I prefer to do those types of photographs with a rangefinder
I can do them with a digital rangefinder THE digital rangefinder, if you will.
Theres that connection with your subject in terms of portraits and in terms of street photography theres that non-connection we all crave as well. Small footprint. It either doesnt hide my face or doesnt draw attention to itself.
Im still shocked that I was able to use it along side my ginormous Canon D-SLRs
and it was a nice compliment. I used it as my ambient body
all the while getting shit from people, you have three cameras?
Theres one more in the car: Shall I go grab that as well, love?
Im an asshole. Its all good.
If you click this
, youll see the photos I shot in an assignment-context
the M8 got a great workout. I didnt expect it to work as well as it did. I mean
Im not used to putting any kind of filter on a Leica M lens in that
theres really no need for it. In the context of my Canon D-SLRs
there are several reasons. Drunk people. The random knocking into an hors doevre trays. Other equipment knocking into it. And
I really dont want to kill an expensive piece of Canon L-series glass. Screw that.
with the M8 in order for it to make suitable files
especially ones in colour
and ones in colour which have some aspect of the frame which is black
one needs to have an IR cut filter. Depending upon the colour temperature where the photo was made I found that Id have to tweak the files in PhotoShop CS3 to remove some odd green tint. No matter if it was tungsten, HMI (daylight balanced artificial light) or even daylight. twas very odd.
like my Canons
no digital camera is perfect. Ive had odd error messages on the Canons; Ive had the M8 just blink the writing file status light with no other cure but to pull the battery.
Like todays Blackberry PDAs
its just another
hard reset. Whatever.
Not every camera can be the Leica MP.
Then again, I really dont want every camera to be the MP. I mean
in todays world
and especially the world I shoot 80% of my work
time is of the essence
a late image is a dead image
I can see my assignment world through framelines
And the rest of the world can see what I saw
transmitted as quickly as what I saw with my Canons.
They were like friends.
They are like friends.
And its like one of my friends. cause
I love shooting the thing. Flaws and all. Not that there are many flaws. And
unless youre a fondler who cant get it right in camera the first time
theres really no reason to have to shoot in RAW mode. Im an Apple Aperture user so that stupid DNG file format kinda sucks for me anyway.
Anyone who knows me and my views
knows that I adore the practice of street photography
the M8 did very very very well
Two solitary dudes. Two solitary worlds. Uninterrupted by my little camera and my soft click. A soft click which still isnt a hard kah-clank like that of an SLR. Still isnt the whisper of the MP
what the hell are you going to do? Use a piece of crap like the Epson?
Wait for Zeiss to make a camera I dont think theyll ever make?
I can use my exceptional Leica glass
and see the results immediately. And submit those images to magazines, which practically only care about timeliness and relevancy. The M8 makes the Leica M format of photography relevant even in my assignment-based workflow.
having sent back the demo which I had for months and having shot 30GB+ of imagery Im missing it. Sure, I shot with the MP today and the 35 is a 35 and the 50s a 50
perhaps even I
an admitted film snob
am loving the M8.
I shot the M8 in every single imaginable photographic circumstance I could throw at it. I threw it into the mix when I did some editorial work for a client with actor Cole Hauser
Its so nice to be intimate with your subject. No huge body in front of your face. Because shooting people is all about the photographers interaction with the subject. No matter who they are.
I also found that shooting it straight at a backlit background with a face in the foreground
manually metering, of course, the M8 did very well
Amy Smart and Stacy Keibler are incredible to work with
they know how to look at a camera. tis a nice thing.
And not to compare the girls to another girl
Lola knows how to as well.
Lola thought I had a treat, though.
I love the native b/w mode. No, its not film. Nothing will ever be film. Only film will be film. Digital can come close, but its not there in the context of where film is. And
its not that one is better than the other. Theyre different.
Honestly, in the end
isnt it about making the photograph? I think it is.
I think the M8s sensor lacks a bit of ability to render contrast to the level Im used to with film
just a little tweaking in either Photoshop CS3 or Aperture
and you can produce beautiful photographs. That said
getting it right in camera is way better than coming semi-close and tweaking the fuck out of it in PhotoShop. A PhotoShop jockey is not a photographer.
I never tried HDR with the M8. Perhaps when my own body arrives?
I did some landscape-esque photos, though.
A place we affectionately call the Death Star.
I liked it.
My little friend, Rumer Willis, and fellow photographer added some nice scale-quote-unquote to a nice afternoon in Malibu. What youre not seeing is frame right like 35 fucking paps. Paps is common parlance for paparazzi. Plural.
Rumer prefers her blad
But she very much liked using the M8 when we hung out in Malibu a couple times. She liked to shoot really high ISOs in daylight in colour. Looked interesting.
And so does the local coin-operated car wash at 02.30
Whilst on the topic of darkness, per se
I like shadow-play
especially a toast between friends
a detail of the street we all walked back on the way home
I found that the M8 did everything I expect from an M body
with beautiful M glass affixed. Sure, it felt like 3 fps. About there, at least. No
its not like the Mark 2 Canons I shoot nor the 5D. Okay, more like the 5D, speedwise. Unless youre shooting hardcore sports and justifiably need the speed, you should be able to nail it at the fps of the M8. I mean
10 fps is ridiculous. Then again, Im not shooting Formula 1.
Just the street.
Just the occasional non-HDR landscape.
Very well-suited for those photographic endeavors indeed.
It shoots Miss Hilton very well indeed as well. Keep your anti-Paris comments to your friggin self. If you dont know her personally, you can take the views in the media generated by fat, insecure and jealous female reporters and shove them up your media-infested ass.
Were always happy to see each other
which seems like every night. But its not. Shes in Rowanda doing humanitarian work right now. Good for her.
Even though the location was lit with pink or reddish LED panels, we had a nice ARRI tungsten with a pretty damn big softbox
even in mixed light
and with a little tweaking in levels
the M8 produced a nice file.
I love just experimenting. Making mistakes. Achieving an interesting result I would have never thought of before unless I made a certain exposure. The M8 marries well to the SF24D flash. That said
I hardly used it
I prefer it as an ambient-only body
When her sis, Nicky, and her boyfriend, David, had a nice private moment on the VIP stage
No way I could have raised up a big-ass SLR to my eye
theyre both rather shy. Having already known my metering inside the club during different lighting scenarios
I made the photo in less than 2 seconds. Metered. Focused. Bam.
And I got to move the image for syndication as well. Something my MP is kinda lacking. It doesnt lack anything other than that.
DJ A.M. bought an M8 for someone but I cant say whom. Unlike others in my business I dont give items.
Becki as in Newton and I spoke Italian together
while shooting in Malibu this summer
Nino as in Munoz a VERY successful photographer
shoots with an M6 as well
and LOVED playing with the M8
I love simple portraits
and I think this one brings out the kind soul which inhabits his body
For having such fucked up available light which most clubs have
I let the M8 decide the white balance
The M8 did swimmingly. Not quite at the level of my Canons
very nice. DJ Vice is amazing, fyi.
My friend Carlos is an artist as well. In fact, back about four years ago he did one of the wildest fashion shows during fashion week for his line, KlozHorse, thatd ever seen. He did a show last month called, For the Love of Honey, hence the bears.
One of my favourite people. Wish I could relate his entire story but
I cant. Amazing.
And besides my daughter
my other amazing subject
whos leg Im resting my own whilst writing this on the sofa
Im sure J was texting me whilst shooting on the carpet
She and I were texting while I was sitting in on the GIFT (Getty Images Field Transmission) program training in July. I got the gist in about the first half hour
of the four we were required to be there
I was bored and made photos
WireImage founders. Editors. Contributors. Staffers. Theyre all there.
And they didnt catch me with the sneaky M8.
Did I happen to say that I enjoyed making street photographs with the M8? Interestingly, when I first got this particular body I didnt like the fact my 35/1.4 Summilux was cropped and made into some mid-forties bastardization of my favourite glass. So
I was using the 28/2.0 Summicron, which was about the same focal length as my go-to glass
As much as I enjoyed having essentially the same focal length as my go-to glass, there was some je nes sais pas missing from the 28 Summi. It lacked the pop and the bokeh I was used to. Dont get me wrong, I enjoyed the lens a lot
it just wasnt the same which I was used to shooting.
It came close. But like in many of the situations I regularly shoot
there isnt much light
and I rely on that extra stop. I love 1.4. I love 1.4 at 400. So
with the 28 Summi
only being at two-oh and at ISO 320
it just wasnt the same. I was still able to make the photo I wanted to make, though.
That womans little taco stand
won a James Beard Award for Culinary Excellence. Just so you know. And
cause I was shootin an M
I went unnoticed.
Except in the case of the poor fuckin dog getting a trim as it were
Or a poor fuckin dog
with a permanent red ring around its eye
Wheres the cat photo you ask? Probably in some gallery noted as Pro on flickr. Not my one, mind you.
I know. I know. I shouldnt hate. I dont. I just think that photo communities have really been dumbed down lately.
What else did I shoot regularly with the M8. People. Events. Street. Some landscape. Oh, yeah, live performances. Dunno why
when I shoot these
I shoot my Leicas with B&W film. I shoot the colour with my Canons. This held true whilst shooting with the M8 as well
Even with the IR-Cut filter
the Leica glass held up well with all that crazy-ass lighting the lighting designers just love to throw at the still and video guys.
The M8 also produced photos which I it seems like, at least could only produce with a Leica M body in my hands
Those shots were of The Bravery, just so you know. That lead singer guys a bit full of himself. FYI.
Shot the M8 whilst shooting for Vanessa Carltons label as well
She performed everything I asked of her.
What would I change? Not much. I mean
that whole if you dont use the IR-cut filter and shoot colour you get magenta blacks sure
what are you gonna do? Thats the way it is
and I want to use my Leica glass in my ambient light photography workflow
have said work relevant in the context of being published. I worked round it.
I also have two wishes: 1) Leica should do a tweaked B&W-only body and pump an extra 2 or 3 megapixels out of it because it wouldnt ever shoot in a colour-mode. 2) Leica needs a Summilux 28/1.4. Ill bet theyd have buyers.
Other than that
I love love love the M8. Its not a film body. Im not going to get into the film vs. digital debate. Film
I love film. I cut my photographic teeth on film. I enjoyed the aroma of souping my film. But
when deadlines are close-close-close
I can now shoot a Leica and my work can be relevant.
It wont take 72 hours for the processing and scanning. Sure, I can pay the 300% RUSH fee and pretty much have it only a few hours after I exposed it
I can have the work I love made with the system I love making it
And I can have it as soon as I put the little card in the reader.
because Im trusted to make the photos so that everyone else can see
I can also add what I saw in a Leica-sorta-way
made with glass I adore. Yes, adore.
I was talking to Kanye West the other night
and I told him I hadnt shot him with a Leica and ever since I saw it was him,
the only shot I want tonight is of you with this. He smiled. I made eye contact and got close and he let the real intense Kanye come out
Just the way I like it.
I want to give a couple shout-outs, too. First, thanks for the help Mr. Gandy! Secondly, thanks Jason and Christian from Leica for all of the support. You guys rock.
Equipment used to make the photos in this whatever-the-hell it is: Leica M8, 16-18-24/4.0 Tri-Elmar, 35/1.4 Summilux, 28/2.0 Summicron, 75/2.0 Summicron, 50/1.0 Noctilux, 90/2.8 Tele-Elmar, Leica IR-Cut filters, Heliopan 3 stop ND filters, Leica SF24D flash (even with off-camera Canon cable) .
and Sandisk Ultra II 2GB SD flash cards.
forgot something ... there's a pretty amazing article
in the new yorker about leica...
UPDATE: so ... it was pointed out to me that i really didn't talk about iso's and the m8. just so you know ... i rarely go over 800 with any of my canons. i don't think any sensor out there at iso 800+ which is acceptable for submission to magazines. my opinion.
and when i thought about the m8 i didn't really think of it as digital; i thought about it as a leica. dunno why. but ... i'll say this ... 160 ... 320 ... fucking gorgeous ... b/w and colour ... 640 ... you have to have enough light ... for a colour file. if you're under, pushing it even slightly in PS CS and the file fucking fell apart. at iso 640 in b/w mode it's about the same ... just less so. at 1250 ... it was alright in b/w mode. it didn't really meet my expectations in colour at that high iso setting. then again, i rarely shoot that high of an iso.
i prefer film for that.
here's a b/w shot at iso 640 in a club ...
not bad. really. since i routinely push delta 400 to 800 in my leica mp.
here's a colour shot ... at iso 640 ... yes ... in a club ... go figure ...
that was tungsten balanced ... there's always crazy light in there. she's billed as the "world's sexiest dj." no comment.
so ... really ... what i'd love to see is 100 or 80 iso from leica. it would be nice if -- in the future, of course -- they worked on the higher stuff as well. for me, though, the all of the iso's, if used properly, look pretty damn good.
go ahead .. say, "well you should shoot it in RAW mode." no, it's cool ... i don't need RAW to save a fucked up file ... i'll get it right "in camera," like a man. DD SUGGESTION REQUIREMENTS
1. DO NOT SUGGEST YOURSELF.
2. PROVIDE THE ACTUAL THUMB - :THUMBXXXXXXXX:
3. TELL ME WHY THIS SHOULD BE A DD.
4. SUBJECT LINE SHOULD BE: DD SUGGESTION
5. IF A THUMB REFERENCE IS NOT GRAPHICALLY INCLUDED, THE NOTE WILL BE DELETED.
6. SORRY, BUT 99% OF NOTES WILL NOT BE ANSWERED; I EITHER USE THE SUGGESTION OR I DON'T.
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VERY GOOD NEWS for photographers who make photographs of people in public places
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