Archive for the ‘Photo Blog’ Category

Here are some other pictures I took while I had the Sony NEX-5n. I must say, it’s a very capable body. I think whenever my NEX-7 arrive, it will fill the gap nicely of where my M9 won’t do. One perfect example would be Macro. I bought this M to NEX Macro adapter from Ebay. You can find the link here

Ebay Link

M to NEX Macro adapter

M to NEX Macro adapter

It’s made by a guy in Taiwan. First impression of the adapter is very good. It’s a solid mount and the macro rotating extension tube section is very smooth. Overall, I think it’s a great adapter to always keep on the NEX. That is, if you’re like me, only have Leica lenses. I don’t plan on buying any E-mount lens anytime soon.

Well, it does get some used to though. Now you almost have 2 focusing ring to play with. I found if you plan on taking close up of something, turn the ring on the adapter first, then fine tune the focus with the lens focusing ring. With the focus peaking, it makes taking sharp images a snap!! I think my manual focusing skills are faster and more consistent that auto focus now!!

Anyways, here are some shots I took at one of the X’Mas banquet at a local Chinese restaurant. All shot with the Sony NEX-5n with Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M

Title: Seafood Platter
Seafood Platter

Title: Dead Fish
Dead Fish

Title: Beak
Beak

Title: Loving Lobsters
Loving Lobsters

Title: Fried Rice
Fried Rice

Title: Shark Fin
Shark Fin

It’s been a few week since I had some time to go shoot. A buddy of mine recently sold his Leica M8.2 while waiting to pick up his M9. It kept getting delayed. He had a wedding to shoot so he borrowed my M9 over the weekend. In return, he let me borrow his Sony NEX-5n to play with. I thought this would be a good chance to try out the NEX series before my pre-ordered NEX-7 arrives (Whenever that is…).
Here are 3 initial shots of it with 2 different lenses. First impression was very good. The camera was easy to use and very easy to handle. I did wish for some more manual adjustments (which I hope the NEX-7 would cover). I still don’t think it’s even close as a replacement for the M9. The picture rendering just doesn’t have the M9 qualities that I like. The lens selection does make quite a big of a difference on the capability of the camera. It quite interesting to have the Noctilux mounted on it. The lens is bigger than the body!! I should have snap a picture of the setup before I returned the camera. I’m sure I’ll have another chance soon to take some shots with it.

Title: Stich
Lens: Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux
Stich

Title: Homework
Lens: Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux
Homework

Title: Peju
Lens: Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux
Peju

I’ll be posting more pictures I took with it in another post focusing more on food. Stay tune!

I had sometime to kill the other day. I was searching on Google map of places in the area to snap some shots with my new Noctilux. Considering there isn’t really much in the heart of Silicon Valley besides the company sign, I didn’t have too many choices. One thing did catch my interest. I knew of the Intel Museum for a while but never really thought I stop by there. Pull up their website

Intel Museum

Free is good!!

So I made the 5 minute drive over. It took me longer to get into the museum than to get to the museum. There was a large crowd of Chinese tour group that was blocking the entrance snapping away at the Large Intel logo.

I knew the Noctilux would shine would be inside. Pun intended. Intel Inside!!

As I walked through the Museum, I saw a lot of interesting relics. Things I remember while growing up and play with. Things that’s mentioned in Steve Jobs’ new Biography.

Title: The Beginning
The Beginning

Title: 5 and a quarter
5 and a quarter

This display was actually very cool. It’s something you’ll have to see in person. Imagine a multilayer etched glass surface with leds…

Title: Intel Inside
Intel Inside

This is a scaled model of a foundry. Notice the DOF that the Noctilux provided!!

Title: Foundry
Foundry

My favorite of the set. I remember the Bunny campaign back in the day. I wanted to a Intel Bunny for Halloween!!

Title: Bunny Disco
Bunny Disco

Well, that was just a fun trip down memory lane. Especially for those of you that grew up in this era!!

Panasonic GF2

GF2 is not Leica’s new model. Though lots of Panasonic MFT (Micro 4/3) lenses has the Leica designation on it. I’m still not sure if it’s actually made by Leica or not. My take? Probably not. Anyways, the wife had this camera for a while now. I also bought the M to MFT adapter since day one that she had it. I just been having so much fun with my Digital M that I rarely even think of using her camera with any of my M lenses. It’s been over a week since I got my Noctilux so I thought this would be a good chance to see how the GF2 matches with the Noct. I also have the new Sony NEX-7 on order. This would give me some what of a first look at shooting the Leica M lenses on non-Leica bodies. I know it’s well over done on the internet. any simple google search will net you plenty of other links of someone using Leica M on non-Leica bodies. Though I have yet to find anyone that put a Noctilux on a GF2? Thus this at least will give the first look for the very specific audience of GF2 owners that are curious on how the Noctilux look on their body.

Leica GF2 Noctilux

Leica GF2 Noctilux

At first look, The lens is huge. It’s probably bigger than the GF2 body and definitely weights a lot more. But this makes carrying the camera a little easier since you have to keep your hand on the lens barrel for focusing regardless. So the weight just naturally pitch forward. Since the wife’s GF2 doesn’t have the view finder and I’m too cheap to buy either the EVF or just the regular VF, I find my self continuously putting the camera up to my eye then realizing that everything is done via the rear LCD screen. It’s a tough habit to break after so many years of shooting. I’m sure this would be a lot easier whenever my NEX-7 comes in.

The Adapter (DMW-MA2M)
Panasonic M to MFT Adapter

The Adapter on the Noctilux
Noctilux with adapter

Other than that, I’m using the Panasonic M to MFT mount which is pricy, but very well made. No lens play at all. Everything clicks in perfectly.
So first thing you have to do when you slap a non Panasonic MFT lens is to allow shooting with no lens attach. You can find that option under Custom setup. Once set, with the M lens, everything is manual now. I typically put it in Aperture priority mode. It won’t detect your actual aperture, but it does meter correctly.

Well, here are 3 shots I took while waiting for the kids at the local Barne’s and Noble. More of a test shot to see what the lens/body combo can do at f/0.95. Of course, the first thing you notice would be the depth of field. But I felt it still lacks the soul that the M9 provide. You be the judge!

Title: Ice Fishing
Ice Fishing

Title: Focus Grover, Focus
Focus Grover, Focus!

Title: Beany bunch
Beany bunch

Had a chance to go walk around Union Square again. I can’t believe Christmas spirit was already in full effect. Macy’s had their x’mas tree lighting last night so I thought it would be fun to take the kids to go see it. Ok, my main goal was to see how well the Noctilux does with the x’mas trees and lights at union square. I must say, it was tough. Not because of the Noctilux but rather, keeping an eye on two little ones in a very crowded space while trying to snap some quick shots.
All the shots seen here were taken with the Noctilux @ ISO 400 with one exception. One of the shots I took with my Voigtlander 12mm Ultra Wide-Heliar. I brought this lens mainly to take self family portrait with the big tree included. I do another post some other time with the 12mm.
In the mean time, here are the pics.

There were abundance of light. Mainly from the color spots and x’mas tree. I’m sure it’s not the good kind, but still makes interesting contrast. Red Hue with the green lit x’mas tree. So Christmasy!! And No, these are not my kids.

Title: X’Mas Colors
X'mas Colors

I’m have never seen so many cameras in one area. I’m sure 98% of people walking around Union Square tonight had some forms of photographic device. Whether it’s a point and shoot, or an iphone, not to mention the onslaught of SLRs. Anyways, I thought this was interesting as I watch this elderly gentleman holding what looks like a walking stick (for the blind?) trying to help someone take a couples picture. His hand was shaking quite a bit. Not to mention where he is pointing the camera at was pretty interesting. Of course, being on site, I knew he was trying to capture the entire tree which probably would make their couples picture pretty uninteresting.

Title: Don’t you see that I’m blind?
Big Tree

Ok, I’m sure this is something we see quite a bit as we get closer to the holidays. Grumpy people spoiling the joy of the holiday season. Maybe he’s all shopped out from Black Friday sale?

Title: Grumpy Old Man
Grumpy Old Man

This last shot was done with the ultra wide 12mm. All I got to say is this lens is WIDE!! Especially on a full frame M9. I recently 6 bit coded this lens to the 21mm 2.8 Elmarit non ASPH which fixes a lot of the funky edge issues. Like I mention earlier, I’ll go shoot some more with this lens and do a full write up. All I have to say is this guy is almost as tall as the X’mas tree… Ok, maybe not but still pretty damn tall. Look at the facial expression on that little kid in the corner!! and No, that’s not my kid either. Btw, my little one almost start crying when this guy walked by. I had the title of this picture all over his face!

Title: WTF is that?
shiny damn tall people...

I had some time over the Thanksgiving break to play with something new or rather old!!

I’m sure there is a lot of you that have non 6 Bit Leica Lenses you would like to use it with the Digital M body (M8, M8.2, M9, and M9-p). There is a handful of solution from DIY to 6 bit coding kits that you can buy. I know for the die hard Leica Fanatics, only shipping it to Leica would work for you. I done some research on the prices and I seen anywhere from $100 ~ $300 to get it professionally coded either by Leica or renown CLA shops. For that price, I could live without the 6 Bit (Since it’s selectable in my M9).
Then I saw a post in one of the forum with someone talking about these code-able ebay rear flange. I have yet to see anyone do a write up or tutorial. I thought I share my experience.

This is where I got mine. Yes it’s shipped from China and it does take a few weeks to get it to the states.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/140597071401?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649

The first impression I got the flange was fairly well made. Further inspection with comparison to my original flange show why the German made was superior to the Chinese version. The biggest gripe I had was the edges were very sharp. It felt like the flange just came out of the CNC machine without any finishing. Minor sanding on the edges does smooth it out. Regardless, this was under $13 shipped per mount.

Here is a comparison picture of the eBay flange on the left coded with the original 24mm flange on the right.

6 Bit Flange

6 Bit Flange


The next test was to see if the coding cutouts were matched as well as how well the bracket sits on the camera. Things I look for was of course, is there any lens play.

Quick Google search brought me to this excellent site with all the Leica M Lens codes and sample pictures. This provides a great reference on which lens you want to code.
Leica M Lens Codes

The lens I was going to code was my Leica 24mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH. I enlisted my wife’s help on painting the 6 bit code. Her dexterity is much better than mine, not to mention she’s use to paint small things on her nail with nail polish. She started coding the 28/90 frame line bracket with the code 011001 (1 being black and 0 being white). It didn’t work. Since the M9 does not have a frameline of 24mm, I figure 28mm would be the closes. I thought it was a problem with the nail polish. So we wipe it clean and started over again with acrylic paint instead. We ran into the same issue. The camera could not read the code. After couple of days of trial and error, I found out that the 6 bit code is link to the frames.

TIP #1: Make sure you use the correct frame line for the bracket. Both the Leica M8 and M9 does take into account the Frame line as well as the code. i.e. Using a 28/90 frame line bracket with the 24mm will not work. Instead, you will need the 35/135 frame line with the 24mm. The above website does list the Frames required.

After switching over to the 35/135 and painted the correct code, it worked flawlessly on my M9. I also tried it with my friends M8.2. It even picked up the 24mm frame line that the M8.2 has!! Best of all, no lens play. It fit just as snug as the original flange.

So quick summary and tutorial for those that knows how to use a screw driver and remove 6 screws.

Disclaimer: I will not be hold responsible if you damage your lens or camera in the process of using this tutorial. This tutorial is provided as a guide. Remember if you still have warranty on your lens, this might void it. Though, I assume most of you that’s doing this to lenses that’s already out of warranty. Regardless, proceed at your own risk!!

Tools needed:
-Small Eye glasses Screw Driver
-Nail Polish or acrylic paint
-Fine paint brush
-Tooth pick
-Q-tip
-Nail Polish remover or Thinner

Tools

Tools

1. Go to this site to see what frame line flange you need.

2. Order the flange (ebay link)

3. Paint the codes per the site listed above. Do the black first. The white is purely cosmetic.

TIP #2: Here is a tip from my wife on how she clean around the edges. She uses this to do her nails. Pull off a tiny chunk of cotton from the end of the Q-tip and wrap it around the blunt end of a tooth pick. Dip that end with nail polish remover. The hard surface of the wood tooth pick with the nail polish remover cotton will give you more control to clean the edges of the coding groove.

4. Let it dry for a few hours.

5. Remove the 6 screws from your lens. Make sure you don’t move the focusing ring after you remove the 6 screws. I actually counted how many turns it took to take the screw out so you can put it back the same way.

6. Take the original bracket off.

7. Match up the holes with the new bracket. (The ones I got matches up perfectly)

8. Put all the screws back in but don’t thread it tight yet.

9. With the screw mostly in, I now turn the focusing ring one full turn both ways. This will help with the alignment as well as provide equal pressure on the rings so that focus will stay smooth.

10. Now tighten the screws in a star shape (similar to tightening the lug nut on the wheel of the car.) I started with 2 screws across from each other then rotate the focusing ring to make sure it’s still smooth. Then tighten 2 more screws. Rotate the focusing ring again. Tighten the last 2 screws. Rotate the focusing ring. Give it a final tightening on all the screws in a star shape. **Make sure you do not over tighten the screws and stripe the thread.!!** Finger tight is good enough.

11. Check the focusing ring to make sure it’s still operating smoothly.

12. Put the lens on the camera and enjoy your new 6 Bit coded lens!!

24mm Elmarit Coded

24mm Elmarit Coded


M9 6 Bitted!!

M9 6 Bitted!!

Hopefully this tutorial was useful and takes away a lot of fears about operating on your Leica lens. It’s fairly simple and straight forward. Just use a little common sense and you will now have a 6 bit coded lens!

Here ares some more Noctilux goodness. These were taken on Sunday in San Francisco ChinaTown. ChinaTow anywhere is always a great place for street photography. Plenty of interesting things and people to shoot. Not to mention the one in San Francisco is always filled with tourist with cameras. With proliferation of DSLR, it seems like almost everyone has one around their neck. This makes using a Leica a lot easier since it just doesn’t stick out! Well, maybe not in this case. A silver M9 with a Noctilux isn’t exactly small nor light. But it was the perfect lens for that day. It was overcast which allowed me to shoot mostly wide open at f/0.95. The only draw back was the rain. It was drizzling so most of the time, I had the camera tucked in my jacket until the decisive moment to whip it out, focus, and click. I also made the mistake of carrying a full size umbrella with me. This made moving around quite difficult. I found a way to secure the umbrella on my belt, but everytime I bend down to get a lower perspective, the damn thing gets caught on the street and falls over. Thus not too many shots were taken.

First on deck. This is call dedication or propaganda depending which “camp” you’re from. This was taken at that park right across from the Hilton. These are Falangong activist doing chi gong. What I found interesting was the rain gears!! and of course… Cue the Music!

Title: YMCA
YMCA

This is probably my favorite of the set. This truly shows the amazing quality of the Noctilux. It’s ability to bring a 2 dimensional photography and gives it a surrealistic 3D look. It just pop! The composition key I used in this photo was contrast as well as using the white sign post and the white crosswalk stripes to frame the 2 main subject.

Title: 3D
3D

With the recent Occupied Everywhere protest, there’s bound to be over abundant of trash everywhere.

Title: Occupied
Occupied

Here is a shot of Henry standing in front of a red door with red brick wall. The red colors always shows great contrast in black and white photography. I snap this shot mianly for the directional sign juxtaposing Henry’s walking path.

Title: Confused
Confused

Here is another common theme that you will always see in ChinaTown. It’s not the news paper reading store owner or the abundance of Chinese herbal medicine. I thought Chinese herbal medicine has a cure or preventive for almost every ailments? I guess he must have skip a few bitter drinks?

Title: Rogaine
Rogaine

Last week was an exciting week.
On Wednesday, I started to see rumors circulating about the new Leica price increase. This was something I had heard a few month back, but nothing substantiating. Then I saw a tweet from Leica Rumor about a fairly confirmed price list increase that will start on January 1st.
Click here for the Leica Rumor post about the new price list

Knowing that I still have one more lens on my wish list that I wanted to add to my permanent collection, the rush is on to source that lens before the $500 price hike. Ok, maybe $500 hike isn’t that significant considering that the lens cost $10,495, but a hike is still a hike. Not to mention, buying a new copy of the lens is still as illusive as capturing the unicorn.

I already place a pre-orders a few month back at all the common places like Adorama as well as numerous others. All I ever get is a monthly backorder email. I knew to hunt the lens down will require more drastic measure. I decided to hit up Unique Photo in New Jersey. They’re the only online shop I found that lists Leica lenses ship in 1 – 3 weeks. Not to mention I lucked out with them last time when I ordered my silver 50mm Summilux. They were able to find and ship me one the next day!! So I placed the order knowing that they have a policy of charging the full amount first and you wait. With January 1st just a little over a month away, I figure this might lock me in to a lens in case they do get one.

Next morning. I got woken up by a phone call from the East coast. Last time with the 50mm Summilux, Unique Photo called me to confirm that I indeed placed an order for the 50mm Summilux because it was a high ticketed item. So I thought it might have been them again. I was still half awake. Instead, it was a call from ePhotoCraft. At first, I was quickly racking my brain on wtf is ePhotoCraft. Is this another one of those telemarketers? Instead, Eldar from ePhotoCraft said they got 2 Noctilux in, one is already sold, and see if I wanted the other one. Without any hesitation I said yes! As I jumped out of bed, my mind was racing. Trying to figure out WTH ePhotoCraft was. I quickly jumped on my computer and looked up ePhotoCraft. Everything was coming back. I remember googling Noctilux looking for the obscure photography store that I might be able to place a pre-order. This store came up in the 3rd or 4th page of search. The place seems like a legit brick and mortar Photography store in DC. They still listed the Noctilux for $9995!! And there was a specific link for pre-order!! So So I filled out their online form and seal my name on yet another waiting list. Not expecting that my number will ever be called.

So this morning call indeed turn out to be legit! As I discussed with Eldar on the phone on shipping method, I decided to fork over the dough for overnight. Two thoughts crossed my mind. If I had it overnight, it wouldn’t spend that much time bouncing around in the truck across the country and If the deal was indeed legit, I would find out the next day. With payment sent right away, the rest of the day was most restless. Waiting for the tracking number.
The tracking number finally show up in the system near the end of the day as I was leaving work. Looks like my lens should arrive any time the next day. Now it becomes a waiting game for the big brown truck!

Friday was painful. We had a special offsite at work that didn’t require me to get in until noon so I sat around all morning waiting for that truck. Knowing how irresponsible my local UPS delivery person is, I wanted to make sure I don’t miss this delivery. They UPS guy been known to leave package in random places around the driveway or not even walking up the stairs to ring the door bell. It doesn’t help that it was raining as well. Last thing I wanted to see is my crown jewel being soaked by the rain. As the clock tick on, no truck. By 11am, I had to leave for work. I forced my wife to stay home and stare out on the driveway to make sure big brown don’t miss us. I think I probably called and message my wife almost every hour while I was at work to see if it showed up. “Nothing” was the word of the day…
I knew my wife would have to go pick up the kid in the afternoon so as soon as I was able to leave the work offsite, I headed straight home to make sure someone was home. I continuously check the front door to make sure Mr. Brown didn’t do his usual thing. “Nothing”.

Shortly around 6pm, the wife called while on the way back from picking up the kid. There was a Big Brown truck next street over making a delivery. I asked her to follow it and don’t loose sight of him. With more common sense, she decline my idiotic request.

About 15 minutes later, I saw the big brown truck pulled up near my driveway. I literally ran out to greet him. YES~!! It’s here!!

This is not the first time I handled the Noctilux. I played with a few of them from the last f/1 to a couple f/0.95. But this time was different. This is MINE!!

Here is just couple shot of the unboxing.

Noctilux-Close

Noctilux-Close


Noctilux-Open

Noctilux-Open

Here are a few shots around the house. Since I got the lens right around dinner time, might as well make dinner my subject.

Title: Green Guts
Green Guts

Title: Fly Fish
Fly Fish

Title: 2 Dollars
2 Dollars

The next day, I had a chance to hit up a good Belgium eatery in the city for a late night snack. Frjtz.. If you’re a big fan of fries and crepe, this place is great!! Price is reasonable and food was excellent. Make sure you order the Mussels!! the ambiance was dark. Perfect to test out the Noct’s capability!!

Title: Good Eats
Good Eats

Title: Morning Fix
Morning Fix

Title: Cut Off
Cut Off

On Sunday, I was able to take the beast out for some walk around shots. It was raining so I want to make sure I didn’t want to get it wet. The good thing was it was cloudy so shooting wide open wasn’t an issue!!

I gather a couple friends to go shooting with me. We ended up in San Francisco China Town. Here is a Tryptych of Arvin shooting the shooter with his Leica M8.2 and Voitlander 50mm f/1.2

Title: Leica Tryptych
Leica Triptych

Since this post is getting long, I will do a separate post in a few days with the China Town pics!!

Stay Tune!

I know Halloween has long passed. I also haven’t had a chance to go out and shoot so I figure I dig into some of the last recent photo I was able to take. This was a day before Halloween. Took the kids to the local pumpkin patch. They had a blast! This place was somewhat interesting. Lots of kids running around. I made it a challenge to try to take picture of the scene without too many people in the background. Not sure if I succeeded.
Anyways, just a quick post.

First up. The kid’s expression is just priceless…
Title: Hum… Something is not right…
Hum... Something is not right...

Everyone has picture of the front. Why not see behind the scene.
Title: Baby got back
Baby got back

When I saw how they lined up, I knew I need a shot (Pun intended). Not to mention a Jolly Roger that looks like it’s flipping duo birds at a kids’ play area?
Title: F U!!
F U!!

Last Straw!! literally…
Title: buck fifty
buck fifty

OK, I got a lot of great feedback on the last Movie Look post. One challenge I got on GetDpi was to see if I change the colors around, would it give it a different feel to the pictures? Like I mention in the original post, I knew the color treatment that I wanted to do to depict the scene. Therefore, it was kinda challenging for me to change the complete feel of the pictures. Instead, I decided to pick the greenish Matrix hue again and apply it to all 4 pictures. This time, going for the darkish feeling that Matrix reloaded gives. I made the pictures a little bit more edgy to stress the high contrast movie look. I’m still not sure if I like this set better, but it does give quite the contrast to the original set.

Title: Matrix Reloaded
Matrix Reloaded

Title: NekoJin Reloaded
NekoJin Reloaded

Title: Cold Stone Killer Reloaded
Cold Stone Killer Reloaded

Title: Scream Reloaded
Scream Reloaded