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Thread: The M8 Goes to Belize and Guatemala!

  1. #1
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    The M8 Goes to Belize and Guatemala!

    From the 26th of December 2009 to the 4th of January this year, the wife and I went to Belize and Guatemala for ten days... I took the M8 and a couple of lenses:

    4/18 Distagon ZM
    2,8/25 Biogon ZM
    1,2/35 Nokton
    1,5/50 Sonnar ZM
    2,8/90 Elmarit-M

    Starting in New York, connecting in Charlotte, then in Belize City and finally off to Ambergris Caye for five days. This time was spent mostly relaxing, eating and drinking. Not necessarily in that order... Then the next four days up in the Cayo district, inland, in the jungle. One day was spent trekking into Guatemala to see the ruins of Tik'al. This part of the trip was constant activity and the options were limitless. On the last day, on the way back to the airport we stopped at the Belize Zoo. The flight back to the states was a horror show, especially at Atlanta, GA. NEVER again. Direct flight via Newark/Belize City only in the future for us.

    The M8 and all the lenses held up perfectly. From hot, salty, windy conditions at the beach to the cooler, humid and relatively still air of the jungle. Even a few brief rain showers throughout. The M8 was mostly naked over my shoulder with whatever lens I had mounted. It survived many a blurry evening racing along in an open golf cart on heavily speed-bumped and potholed roads. Trekking to, around, into and on top of Maya ruins. Never once did I have an issue with any of the gear. Once I got home I wiped everything down, and it looks just fine.

    I used the 2,8/25 Biogon ZM the most. It's easily my favorite lens. Stopped down to f/5.6 on average at ISO 160 - it was in the sweet spot and offered tremendous DoF. Unfortunately, most of the time I was rushed in taking pictures since I wasn't alone and often part of a small tour group (4-6 people). Requiring nothing more than a small bump on the focus or exposure, it was essentially a P&S. The images of this combo are breathtaking... Ridiculously sharp. I love this lens. Many photos might appear oversharpened; in fact I applied very little USM after resizing (60/0.3/0). The sheer amount of textures and contrast are well represented! I anticipate making many large prints.

    Next up, is the 1,2/35 Nokton. This lens is a bit large for an "out and about" lens, but at night - and even during the day - delivers great photos. Really makes shooting the M8 at lower ISOs when the lighting drops easy enough, to keep noise down. I used it at Cahal Pech when I could spend a little more time for those "arty shots" and evenings in Ambergris Caye.

    As for the rest of the lenses, I used the 1,5/50 Sonnar ZM at the Belize Zoo, though in retrospect I might have used the 2,8/90 Elmarit-M more next time. I used the latter and the 4/18 Distagon only rarely when the situation called for them. I could have done without, honestly.

    I brought along a Canon G9 as a backup and for those macro/tele/flash shots. I only used it inside of Barton Creek Cave. Naturally, like an idiot - I forgot to change settings and dragged the shutter. So much for automation, right?

    I've posted about 265 photos (so far) and can be seen in my Belize and Guatemala gallery. Here's a teaser:


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    Member Roel's Avatar
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    Re: The M8 Goes to Belize and Guatemala!

    Thank you for posting this (and your photos). I am heading to Guatemala in February, so it was great to read about your experience.

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    Re: The M8 Goes to Belize and Guatemala!

    Quote Originally Posted by Roel View Post
    Thank you for posting this (and your photos). I am heading to Guatemala in February, so it was great to read about your experience.
    You're quite welcome - and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    If your experience will be anything like mine, you'll have the time of your life. Keep the gear basic, don't stop shooting and don't forget to eat some great food and drink some quality coffee.

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    Re: The M8 Goes to Belize and Guatemala!

    I forgot to mention... The dynamic range of the M8 was a real pleasure. From the darkest shade areas in the jungle to the whited-out, overcast sky - it's all there. In some tricky, high-contrast shots - a little fiddling during DNG import brought everything right into line. A little recovery, a little fill light - followed by a slight bump in midtones and more S-curving for contrast is all I had to do on even the most extreme shots.

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    Re: The M8 Goes to Belize and Guatemala!

    This trip inspired some camera porn:


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    Re: The M8 Goes to Belize and Guatemala!

    Which camera strap is that?

    Don

    Great camera pron by the way
    Don Libby
    Iron Creek Photography
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    Re: The M8 Goes to Belize and Guatemala!

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Libby View Post
    Which camera strap is that?

    Don

    Great camera pron by the way
    Thanks, hehe.

    The strap is by Luigi Crescenzi of leicatime.com - it's the "Deluxe Strap" in rally leather, slightly customized. I had Luigi use the quick-disconnect clasps.

    In retrospect, I don't know that I'd recommend these clasps. There have been a few occasions where one side opened up on me while handling the camera (thankfully nothing happened!). They also twist up the strap something fierce, given a little time. In the picture you might see that I tucked them up into the leather loops and went back to the round rings as usually seen. I may cut them off eventually after I think about it some more.

    The strap itself (as well as the half case, which I have for the Ikon and where this strap actually belongs) is simply DIVINE. Luigi makes the softest, yummiest leatherware for your rig around.

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    Re: The M8 Goes to Belize and Guatemala!

    Your posted images were great! It really gave both a sense of place and specifically the activities you experienced. Looked like great fun...so much so that I'm thinking of making a trip there sometime in the future! Thanks for posting. Your comments regarding lenses and focal lengths used was also most helpful. I just retuned from extensive work related trips (no place exciting so writing recently has been put on hold for the most part.), so your travels and images lead to of course a desire to travel a bit off the beaten path and something quite interesting.

    By the way, in your image posted above...that obviously must be Leica's" well known "passport", next to your M8? . No doubt it opens doors everywheres!

    Also I couldn't agreee more with you about Luigi's leather products...they're that good!

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: The M8 Goes to Belize and Guatemala!

    ^ Thanks, Dave! (I just realized I never responded to this)

    You should absolutely consider Belize. It's economical, totally non-commercialized and there are just SO many things to do. Diving and snorkeling, Maya ruins, fishing, parasailing, hiking, canoeing down rivers and through caves - and plain' ol' fashioned sipping fruity-things-with-umbrellas on the beach. The people are just fabulous; very friendly. The exchange rate doesn't get any easier... 2-to-1. I know we're going back and actually considering a condo there.

    Alas, that's not a Leica passport, heh. Just one of two that I usually carry.

    One day I'll figure out what configuration I want and get a Luigi case for the M8. Bonus that it'll work with the M9 as-is!

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