Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tokyo X-Vario: For Serious Shooting Days

Leica X-VARIO at 30mm equiv. 1/250th sec F/4.1 @ ISO 400. Shot RAW, CS5 and cropped.

I was hanging out in Shinjuku West in the Yodobashi Camera electronics district when I saw these two guys sitting outside a Starbucks. Wow did they stand out. Not only were they foreigners in a sea of Asians, but they were dressed in white newsprint themed suits! I asked Wendell (left) and Leo (right) if I could take a quick shot of them and they agreed. Luckily I was already in RAW mode and didn't have to fiddle with white balance or worry too much about the exposure or contrast since I could adjust much of it in post production. That's the beauty of shooting RAW on a larger sensored camera.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tokyo-X-Vario: Shooting at Night in Ginza

Leica X-Vario at 28mm equiv. 1/15th sec F/7.1 @ ISO 1600. Leaning camera against light pole.

I thought I would continue testing the X-Vario at night to prove that it is possible to get great shots without having an F/1.4 lens or image stabilization (optical or sensor based). We use these types of specs as tools, but sometimes we need more than tools to get great images. In fact, sometimes limits help us to come up with unique solutions, and often we create images we would never have done with cameras with more tricks and specs. 

I like the mood of artificial lights at night, and how the direction of light is also very different from natural daylight. However, to capture this type of lighting correctly, you have to shoot at the right shutter speed. I find that shooting at night at super-slow shutter speeds is great for creating a sense of  motion. 1/8 to 1/120th of a second is best for painting this motion , such as moving cars or people. How is this possible with the X-Vario?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tokyo-X-Vario: Street Photography at 70mm

Leica X-VARIO. 1/1000th sec  f/6.4 @ ISO 1600. Shot at 70mm equiv
The X-Vario is a very powerful tool for street photography. Leica has chosen a reasonable focal range of 28 to 70 equiv, with 35mm and 50mm also labelled for convenience. I would say most Leica shooters are in the 35 to 50 range, but 70mm at F/6.4? Many like using telephoto lenses to create a shallow depth of field to isolate their subject, but there's more to a telephoto lens. I decided to give it a try and found it really useful for compressing images that have a background that progressively gets further away, such as buildings. Notice how the lens compresses the buildings, but at the same time, due to the small aperture, everything from the foreground to the background is in focus?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My First Day of Shooting in Tokyo: Finally!!

Ricoh GR Digital IV. 1/410th sec F2.2 @ ISO 320. Self Portrait.
Image of Leica X-Vario and Minolta CLE with 40mm F/2
I always carry all my cameras with me, but since I've been sick the past week and its been pretty cold here, I haven't had more than a few minutes here and there to take a few images. I've shot off a few personal images to family and friends, but no real serious shooting days. Today I escorted my wife to the local DAISO store and since she was going to be a while, I sneaked out and had my first real photo session. You have to be focused to shoot properly: manual focus, manual exposure, proper framing, perfect timing, etc. Walking with the wife carrying groceries and a hot tea in your hand is not conducive in getting great images. I finally had 30 minutes to get some serious shooting time in...I'll try and post the images tonight. My wife has dinner with a friend tonight so I think I'll be able to sneak off for 2 hours and get some night shots. Keep checking back for more images and happy shooting!


Tokyo-X-Vario: Shooting at Night Handheld

Leica X-Vario in AV mode. 1/20th sec F/6.4 @ ISO 800. Focal length at 70mm equiv
I've been in Tokyo for a week but I've only just started taking pictures with the Leica X-Vario. I was sick before I left Vancouver and I was sick when I landed, and I've been sick all week. I'm only now starting to feel a bit better so it's time to get shooting. The first thing I wanted to test was night shooting with the X-Vario. So many complain that with such a small aperture and no optical or sensor based image stabilization, shooting at night would be next to impossible. I didn't agree so I thought I would give it a try.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tokyo-X-Vario: View Japan Through a Leica

Image taken with Ricoh GR-D IV. 1/42 sec F/1.9 @ ISO 400

It's always been a romantic concept of mine to wander the streets of Tokyo with a Leica. I know I'm not alone as there are a few 'foreigners' in Tokyo who have become quite well known in the photography blogosphere as Leica photographers. I've been back to Japan many times, and I've taken a variety of cameras over the years: Argus, Minolta, Fujifilm, Ricoh, Pentax, Canon, Panasonic; but never with a Leica. 

But why a Leica? I don't know why really. Is it perhaps because both the Leica brand and the Japanese culture seem to both be entrenched in tradition, but at the same time adapt to the present without forgetting their past? Is it the red dot? Is it because of that movie with Clint Eastwood? Who knows...