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Is Leica Really Just a Street / People System?

I know the subject line seems odd, but I wanted to open this discourse surrounding Leica (film and digital) as being a system driven by image quality when it comes to people vs. place.

I briefly had an M240 but traded her in for an SL and also shoot an M6. What I have found is that in either format, landscape images fall flat. I am thinking the following:

For the past 8(ish) years I shot a large percentage of my images using LF film (mainly 8x10, some 4x5). I mainly scanned as my home darkroom is pretty barren. So is it just my level of expectations when shooting landscape that 24MP just will never be able to capture the resolution of sheet film, and therefore I should lower my expectations?

Also, I have found that when importing files from the SL... portraits, more traditional street images shine while my landscape images just don't have that POP.

I wonder if anyone else has found the same?

I likely need a major brush up on post - production skills.
 

segedi

Member
Comparing 35mm full-frame, regardless of pixel count, to LF is futile. Your perspective will always be skewed!

Portraits and street will often have a point of focus that allows the brain to exclude other information (background, misc details, etc.)
Landscape, for me, is a bit different. My eye wanders more. The need for greater detail calls out to the larger-format-skewed brain when looking at landscapes.

Fear not. There are a couple of things to make your post-processing a breeze.

A great all-arounder for many subjects is Athentech's Perfectly Clear plugin suite(sweet!)

There's a landscape setting default that works wonders. Backoff the sharpening if you experience some funny artefacts.

NOTE: ignore the security warning and copy and paste this if you get one:
http://www.athentech.com/products/plugins

I do think that the M, and other smaller format systems like my Fuji, are very nice for landscape. You'll have less of the focus control of large format, but lighter, quicker systems are very nice.
 
The question really is more about what constitutes landscape photography. There are many very talented photographers who use Leica cameras for their work, including landscape. As someone living in Iceland, RAX comes to mind. Another friend of mine uses a Leica M monochrom for his landscape work and has had it featured in museums and galleries to great acclaim. I used the M9 for awhile before switching to the S2. Personally, I think resolution is not necessarily more important in landscape photography than it is in other fields. Resolution is an attribute that is either needed, or not needed for a particular photograph. Back in 2010 I had an exhibition that was a blend of images from 6x7, 6x6, 4x5 and the M9. The M9 images were printed slightly smaller, but they blended well with the rest of the work. I had been shooting 4x5 slide at the time, but I found that I actually preferred some of the M9 images to those of the 4x5 (mostly for practical DOF reasons and when shooting in low natural light with low ISO film, slow lenses, high winds and moving image elements!). I think the character of the color (or b&w tonality) is more important than the resolution in most cases, assuming the resolution is high to begin with.

There is undoubtedly a difference in character between 35mm and MF/LF however, but I think it depends a lot on how you shoot as well. What lens are you using in LF? A lot of people tend to use a bit longer lenses on LF and stick with the 4x5 ratio. If you are using a 150-210mm that is more in the 50-70mm range, while a lot of people tend to shoot 35mm cameras with a bit wider lenses. This can also impact the feel, as shallow DOF effects only tend to start being more visible above 50mm.

As for sheer detail, going above 24mp is going to help you. You can likely find a used S2 or S 006 for less than the price of your SL, and it would be a more detailed camera that is probably more suited to landscape, should you choose to get one. The challenge is more how many lenses you need. If you tend to use only one focal length, the 70mm is available for a reasonable price, and it is exceptionally good. I would say, however, that the SL is more than capable of making great landscapes, as long as it is used appropriately.
 
V

Vivek

Guest
Is Leica Really Just a Street / People System?

If that refers to the M, the answer is a resounding, yes. Of late, Leica have lost their ways and have been trying to cater to a boutique crowd that will only shoot vacation snaps (easily done with an iphone) and such (preferrably after a few glasses of an inebriating beverage) and there has been confusion created online as a result.

You have plenty of choices for landscape shots and of late a few alternate (and far better) possibilities for street and people as well.
 

algrove

Well-known member
For a long time I used my M9 and MM1 for landscape afterwards going to the M-P (240) and MM2 which I currently own and still use for landscape.

Louis Foubare: Making Every Minute Count - The Leica Camera Blog

Of course I also use my M's for street so having one system for both uses is a plus.

Louis Foubare: Fluidity and Unpredictability in Street Photography - The Leica Camera Blog

I also got the Q and tried out the AF due my vision issues and find it works very well for either street, landscape or whatever you shoot.

"Quba": Cuba with the Leica Q by Louis Foubare - Leica Forum Blog
 

JohnBrew

Active member
Dan, I would say that if your M landscapes were "flat" you need to change your processing.
Also, I don't know if you did any bw conversions from M files, but they really shine when converted. My old M8/8.2 bw files were the closest to film I've ever experienced in a digital.
 

ErikKaffehr

Well-known member
Hi,

I guess what you call "pop" is the result of 40% profiles %50 processing and 10% camera. So I would focus on the two first factors and don't care that much about the third one.

One problem with landscape can be the luminance range. If you just compress the luminance range for screen or print the image will look flat.

If I have sky in an image, I almost always start fixing that, mostly involving a graduated filter with the setting below:
Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 07.12.43.jpg

After that I adjust black point, and use "highlights" and "shadows" to get god tonal range. Both these sliders are content adaptive in Lightroom. They may do local adaptive tone mappings.

Finally adjust exposure and contrast to taste.

You can add a touch of Clarity and Vibrance before serving…

Best regards
Erik



I know the subject line seems odd, but I wanted to open this discourse surrounding Leica (film and digital) as being a system driven by image quality when it comes to people vs. place.

I briefly had an M240 but traded her in for an SL and also shoot an M6. What I have found is that in either format, landscape images fall flat. I am thinking the following:

For the past 8(ish) years I shot a large percentage of my images using LF film (mainly 8x10, some 4x5). I mainly scanned as my home darkroom is pretty barren. So is it just my level of expectations when shooting landscape that 24MP just will never be able to capture the resolution of sheet film, and therefore I should lower my expectations?

Also, I have found that when importing files from the SL... portraits, more traditional street images shine while my landscape images just don't have that POP.

I wonder if anyone else has found the same?

I likely need a major brush up on post - production skills.
 
He is trying to offload his SL, etc.
Indeed I am.

I was enjoying summer when my wife and I were asked to come over to dinner with her parents. We live above the family business, it's there way of helping us get by while we are in school and living off one income.

That dinner consisted of us being told the business has been sold, a PNS sheet is being signed this month. In other words we are being kicked out.

We have very little. I have to make this sacrifice for my wife and I as the SL will pay for 6 months of rent here. It's sad, but it's the reality.

Hopefully things will change when I graduate next year and we will finally have 2 incomes. I'm keeping all my M glass in addition to my M6. So I'm not totally jumping into the volcano.
 
Hi,

I guess what you call "pop" is the result of 40% profiles %50 processing and 10% camera. So I would focus on the two first factors and don't care that much about the third one.

One problem with landscape can be the luminance range. If you just compress the luminance range for screen or print the image will look flat.

If I have sky in an image, I almost always start fixing that, mostly involving a graduated filter with the setting below:
View attachment 119714

After that I adjust black point, and use "highlights" and "shadows" to get god tonal range. Both these sliders are content adaptive in Lightroom. They may do local adaptive tone mappings.

Finally adjust exposure and contrast to taste.

You can add a touch of Clarity and Vibrance before serving…

Best regards
Erik
Great advice.
 

Ai_Print

Active member
I guess what you call "pop" is the result of 40% profiles %50 processing and 10% camera. So I would focus on the two first factors and don't care that much about the third one.
Not sure I agree with that, I think it is actually 100% the photographer. I see a lot of garbage landscape photos in which someone either did not recognize the image is just "not all that" or worse, they tried to beef it up in post.

I hardly have to ever do anything with my M240 files in post, I get it right in camera and have happy clients all the live long day and that very much includes landscapes.

I think it's rarely the camera or post that is to blame, usually it is the person behind the camera not understanding the nuances of light, texture, form and contrast.
 

PeterA

Well-known member
Not sure I agree with that, I think it is actually 100% the photographer. I see a lot of garbage landscape photos in which someone either did not recognize the image is just "not all that" or worse, they tried to beef it up in post.

I hardly have to ever do anything with my M240 files in post, I get it right in camera and have happy clients all the live long day and that very much includes landscapes.

I think it's rarely the camera or post that is to blame, usually it is the person behind the camera not understanding the nuances of light, texture, form and contrast.
POP is an interesting word - my understanding is that an image 'pops' because either a person has used a fast lens wide open - properly, and the subject matter pops out at the viewer and / or the combination of 3Dimensionality from a fast lens combined with good LIGHT - has the same effect...

Perhaps you are referring to 'poop' in your comment? poop is the same set of 'luminance tricks' from the same set of pre-fabbed bought ready to use luminance masks - making absurd faux 'zone' relationships between bits of rock and trees eliciting oooh and ahhh response.

I could be wrong though.
 
V

Vivek

Guest
Indeed I am.

I was enjoying summer when my wife and I were asked to come over to dinner with her parents. We live above the family business, it's there way of helping us get by while we are in school and living off one income.

That dinner consisted of us being told the business has been sold, a PNS sheet is being signed this month. In other words we are being kicked out.

We have very little. I have to make this sacrifice for my wife and I as the SL will pay for 6 months of rent here. It's sad, but it's the reality.

Hopefully things will change when I graduate next year and we will finally have 2 incomes. I'm keeping all my M glass in addition to my M6. So I'm not totally jumping into the volcano.
Wish I am in a position to help out by buying some of that stuff.

Good luck to you!
 
Files from the M in my experience are similar to Canon files in that they look pretty good SooC but don't stand up well to pushing. It's just different philosophies really. My personal preference is for a relatively flat starting point that I can work with to a greater degree in post, but I understand the argument the otherway. I sort of liken it to chromes vs negatives. You can do a lot with an Ektar 100 negative, but Velvia on the light table is really something else...

I wll say that my M files require a LOT of work to bring back the dynamic range that Leica's profiles are trying to throw away. I'm nearly always all the way down on the Highlights slider. I also am now trying to avoid the ETTR technique that I use with my Nikon. In fact, I often bring the tiny and wonderful Sekonc L-308 with me when I'm shooting with my M. I like to really nail exposures with it to maximise quality. Whereas with my Nikon, I can safely shoot all day on Aperture Priority, auto ISO w/ 12,800 max and exposure comp at .7-1 stop down and get fantastic results with lots of headroom.

I would say the M shines when doing reportage and documentation, environmental portraiture, travel, and certain types of landscape work. I would have no problem setting up the M on a tripod and shooting nearly any kind of landscape actually. Although other systems are better for long exposures.

Personally though, I like to shoot all my landscapes on film. I just got a Chamonix 45N-2 and I can't imagine a better tool for the kind of images I want to create.
 

Ai_Print

Active member
I would have no problem setting up the M on a tripod and shooting nearly any kind of landscape actually. Although other systems are better for long exposures.

Personally though, I like to shoot all my landscapes on film. I just got a Chamonix 45N-2 and I can't imagine a better tool for the kind of images I want to create.
The fairly short long exposure cap that is commensurate with ISO setting on the 240 might be the main reason I personally would *not* consider the M an optimal tool for shooting landscapes, second would be parallax error that is common to RF cameras.

I am in the same camp as you with the 45N-2, love mine and black and white film is my primary medium for landscapes. I also have a super custom one of these on order, will take awhile to source some exotic blue carbon fiber in Italy.
 
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