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Thread: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

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    S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    All of the stuff about the S2 being an "inbetweener" is fast becoming disproved IMO and direct experience.

    This camera and its lens system punches well beyond it's class, and is every bit able to run with the big dogs of the MFD world. Stats would seem to indicate otherwise, but real world use is the real test, and I've now used this system and a bunch of different MFD rigs long enough to make a few observations.

    Not only has the S2 taken over a LOT of the 35mm DSLR duties and spoiled me against using any 35mm kit, it has relentlessly crept into applications I'd normally use my H4D/60 for. More so than I ever thought would be viable. I recently did a studio shoot and used both cameras about evenly, sometimes swapping from one to the other for the same set-up. Frankly, I was hard pressed to distinguish the IQ between them, and if not for the different ratios, would have had to check the exif info to tell them apart. I'd have to be making ginormous prints to see any real difference ... or cropping a ridiculous amount.

    Frankly, I'm not only pleasantly pleased by this, I'm quite surprised .

    Also, for my applications, I do not find the lens spread to be limiting at all. I haven't run into any shoot where I was lamenting the lack of something wider or longer ... at least not yet. However, I do wish Leica would get the Leaf Shutter versions out soon.

    Here are a few applications of S2 shots done for a project (I made the S2 poster for myself as a side line ).

    All shot in the studio using a Profoto D4-2400 and either a Mola Beemm Beauty dish, or a Profoto 6' Strip light with a 4" strip modifier mounted on an overhead boom arm. This was a fast paced shoot as the bodybuilder could only pop the muscles for a brief time, and I had to move quickly for each set-up ... which I found the S2 to be more agile at doing than the H4D/60.

    -Marc
    Last edited by fotografz; 22nd October 2011 at 03:13.

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Beautiful work. The S2 is an object of lust for me.
    Alan

    Selection of work: http://weinschela.zenfolio.com

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Love it, Marc. I need a framed poster.

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Hi Marc,
    It is beautiful and thank you for sharing more about your S2P and use. Could you tell us how well, or how it's been shooting with these strobes as far as shooting speeds go, I know shooting indoors and currently without the CS lenses might not have called for HSS, but perhaps you have experienced some. Were you using to PW to fire your strobes?

    Thanks,
    Po

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Marc, I am considering the S2 while I am in the process of selling my Hy6 system. My concern - and a question to you and other users here - is that it is after all and despite its good ergonomics an MF camera with all the associated operational limitations (i.e. need to shoot handheld at 1/250s at least, with f5.6-8 to get images without blur and with acceptable DoF). I've been using an M9 a lot and really like the results and the quick, opportunistic & experimentation style of work that it facilitates. And I fear I would be tempted to use the S2 the same way as the M9 and would be disappointed with the results, for the above reasons. So, in your experience, is the S2 really a machine that needs to be used with strobes or other in conditions with plenty of light or can it pretend to be a bigger M9?

    Note: you may ask why I am considering the S2 when the M9 does for me what I want. Put simply, there are enough situations in my photography where I benefit from the better IQ (e.g. landscape, citiscape), the problem being that if I travel just with the Hy6 system, it excels in considered/tripod mounted situations and it just fails badly when I try to use it handheld for the quick shots. So I am thinking, given its better ergonomics, is the S2 better at being the only camera one takes for a month long trip to a far away destination, for instance? I suspect the answer may well be that I should forget about the S2 and use the M9, and if it is that, then so be it and at least I've saved a lot of cash :-)

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Quote Originally Posted by baudolino View Post
    Marc, I am considering the S2 while I am in the process of selling my Hy6 system. My concern - and a question to you and other users here - is that it is after all and despite its good ergonomics an MF camera with all the associated operational limitations (i.e. need to shoot handheld at 1/250s at least, with f5.6-8 to get images without blur and with acceptable DoF).
    Last week I was at Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater. Being there with the LHSA, we were granted permission to shoot inside the house, but with no tripods or other supports and time was limited. I've posted some of the images with full shooting data here:

    Shooting the Leica S2 in Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

    Here's another example of using the S2 casually on vacation with my family:

    Leica S2 as a vacation point and shoot


    To answer your question, yes, the S2 can be used in non-typical medium format scenarios. No, you do not studio lighting to extract all of its qualities. Good lighting and a tripod will almost always make for sharper pictures with more DOF and a higher degree of technical perfection. Those circumstances aren't always available.

    The S2 with it's large mirror and slower f/2.5 lenses will never be the low light, hand-held tool that the M9 is. Being able to shoot at 1/15th @ f/1.4 is the the domain of the M. But, you'll find that working within its limitations (not as stringent as you've outlined above), the S2 will reward you with some breathtaking results. And, you'll find yourself in the same position as me and others who have both the M9 and the S2.... the S2 will get far more use than the M9.

    David
    David Farkas
    Leica Store Miami

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Thanks David, that's what I was hoping to hear

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Quote Originally Posted by pophoto View Post
    Hi Marc,
    It is beautiful and thank you for sharing more about your S2P and use. Could you tell us how well, or how it's been shooting with these strobes as far as shooting speeds go, I know shooting indoors and currently without the CS lenses might not have called for HSS, but perhaps you have experienced some. Were you using to PW to fire your strobes?

    Thanks,
    Po
    Hi Po, actually, when shooting in the studio the need for a higher shutter speed sync is less of an issue than when shooting outdoors where CS lenses can be a bit more helpful.

    In the studio, like my shots posted above, all ambient light is suppressed or is so low as to not be a factor compared to the amount of light from the strobes. What determines the crisp rendering of the subject is the duration of the flash itself, not the shutter speed. Various strobe systems produce different durations and the lower the strobe level is set, the faster the duration is. Fashion shooters sometimes use high speed duration flash systems to freeze a moving model, but for most subjects in the studio 1/125th is fine. If it is very dark in the studio area, almost any shutter speed is okay.

    When they shoot images of a bullet bursting a balloon filled with water, it is the high speed flash duration doing the freezing, not a shutter speed. In fact, the camera shutter is left open on those shots in a pitch dark room and only the flash does the work (fired by a high speed sound trigger or infered beam).

    Outdoors, a leaf shutter is helpful because you can set the shutter to 1/500th instead of 1/125th ... which allows you to meter for the ambient light and use a wider aperture if you wish, even in brighter conditions ... but still use a strobe for directional light.

    -Marc

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Nice shots Marc.

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Quote Originally Posted by baudolino View Post
    Marc, I am considering the S2 while I am in the process of selling my Hy6 system. My concern - and a question to you and other users here - is that it is after all and despite its good ergonomics an MF camera with all the associated operational limitations (i.e. need to shoot handheld at 1/250s at least, with f5.6-8 to get images without blur and with acceptable DoF). I've been using an M9 a lot and really like the results and the quick, opportunistic & experimentation style of work that it facilitates. And I fear I would be tempted to use the S2 the same way as the M9 and would be disappointed with the results, for the above reasons. So, in your experience, is the S2 really a machine that needs to be used with strobes or other in conditions with plenty of light or can it pretend to be a bigger M9?

    Note: you may ask why I am considering the S2 when the M9 does for me what I want. Put simply, there are enough situations in my photography where I benefit from the better IQ (e.g. landscape, citiscape), the problem being that if I travel just with the Hy6 system, it excels in considered/tripod mounted situations and it just fails badly when I try to use it handheld for the quick shots. So I am thinking, given its better ergonomics, is the S2 better at being the only camera one takes for a month long trip to a far away destination, for instance? I suspect the answer may well be that I should forget about the S2 and use the M9, and if it is that, then so be it and at least I've saved a lot of cash :-)
    These are good questions, and it really depends on what your end objective may be. I also use a M9 as well as a S2 and a H4D/60.

    The S2 does need attention to DOF and shutter speed when shooting hand-held, but I am of the school where content is king, and I go for it even if pushing the boundaries of what the S2 can actually do. Basically, I can get away with cheating fate for one reason ... the files are twice as big as the M9s so I don't need to enlarge as much ... slight errors in technique don't show up as much when printed. At 100% pixel peeping they do, but I don't care about internet pixel peeping exercises, I make prints and that is what counts. Heck, I've even made stupid mistakes with the S2 and in the heat of the moment didn't pay attention to the shutter speed and still pulled decent prints (as long as they aren't to big of a print )

    -Marc

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Awesome Marc! Thanks for the detailed explanations.

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Really like tho photos! Really like the S2 although I do not own one!

    Really do not understand why it has to be mentioned again and again that the S2 is a Medium Format Machine - consider it as what you want it does not change how great it performs!

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Quote Originally Posted by ptomsu View Post
    Really like tho photos! Really like the S2 although I do not own one!

    Really do not understand why it has to be mentioned again and again that the S2 is a Medium Format Machine - consider it as what you want it does not change how great it performs!
    While true enough, it is often referred to as an "In-Betweener", not 35mm and not a true MFD ... which my own practical experience is now disproving to a greater degree then I first expected. That's all.

    But you are right, take it for what it is and how it fits your specific applications ... or don't, if it doesn't.

    -Marc

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    While true enough, it is often referred to as an "In-Betweener", not 35mm and not a true MFD ... which my own practical experience is now disproving to a greater degree then I first expected. That's all.

    But you are right, take it for what it is and how it fits your specific applications ... or don't, if it doesn't.

    -Marc
    The S2 could easily be kind of my all in one MF and FF DSLR, if it had more lens options today (and I would win in the lottery ) ....

    But seriously, I consider the S system as the leading MF system when it comes to rugged design, ease of handling, best optical quality and of course highest IQ.

    And I could not care less if it is MF in someone's eyes or not. As I no longer care if for example any other camera or system is great in one's eye or not - it all depends on individual (my individual) needs and lust for a system.

    Peter

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Quote Originally Posted by ptomsu View Post
    The S2 could easily be kind of my all in one MF and FF DSLR, if it had more lens options today (and I would win in the lottery ) ....

    But seriously, I consider the S system as the leading MF system when it comes to rugged design, ease of handling, best optical quality and of course highest IQ.

    And I could not care less if it is MF in someone's eyes or not. As I no longer care if for example any other camera or system is great in one's eye or not - it all depends on individual (my individual) needs and lust for a system.

    Peter
    Hi Peter,
    I (and my bank account) are really glad there are NOT more lens options for the S2
    Honestly there are quite some things one can do with those 4 lenses, specially keeping in mind that the 120 works very well as Macro lens but also renders in a way that one can use it ver well as a portrait lens.

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Quote Originally Posted by baudolino View Post
    Marc, I am considering the S2 while I am in the process of selling my Hy6 system. My concern - and a question to you and other users here - is that it is after all and despite its good ergonomics an MF camera with all the associated operational limitations (i.e. need to shoot handheld at 1/250s at least, with f5.6-8 to get images without blur and with acceptable DoF). I've been using an M9 a lot and really like the results and the quick, opportunistic & experimentation style of work that it facilitates. And I fear I would be tempted to use the S2 the same way as the M9 and would be disappointed with the results, for the above reasons. So, in your experience, is the S2 really a machine that needs to be used with strobes or other in conditions with plenty of light or can it pretend to be a bigger M9?
    ...
    I would say if you do like shallow DOF the S2 works fine handheld. For me ISO 640 works great, I often set auto iso limited to 640ISO and 1/250 and that does a good job.

    However with the 35 and 70mm lens I have handheld images at 1/30 in some cases which are still acceptable. The mirror is very well damped.
    (However I have also handhold images at relativly long exposres with the Hy6 and the Sinar 75LV+110/2.0 at ISO800). So I think the low light capability of the S2 is not that much different. But the camera handles much faster, you get instant good feedback (image display and good histogramm), the lenses are fast, etc.

    Of course the M9 offers a different level for low light photography. (But then how often do we shoot in such light?)
    Sometimes when I carry the S2 I put also an x1 in the bag, just in case...
    If I went on a week cpecial trip and would expect low light photography I would at least additionally bring something else besdies the S2, maybe the x1 or a Nex or a M9 with a 35/1.4...

    Here one form using the S2 as a casual Sunday afternoon family walk (just yesterday):

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    This camera and its lens system punches well beyond it's class, and is every bit able to run with the big dogs of the MFD world. Stats would seem to indicate otherwise, but real world use is the real test, and I've now used this system and a bunch of different MFD rigs long enough to make a few observations.
    Shhhhhhhhhhhh (nice shots though)

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Quote Originally Posted by baudolino View Post
    ...with all the associated operational limitations (i.e. need to shoot handheld at 1/250s at least, with f5.6-8 to get images without blur and with acceptable DoF)...
    Those are just myths. It is no harder to use MFD than other cameras. While not an S2, I use a Pentax 645D handheld all the time. I shoot down to 1/8s and at ISO 1600 and I have found the DoF wide open easy to use. And why a 40MP Pentax , Phase, or Hasselblad is a medium-format camera, but an S2 is not is another mystery--the sensors are basically the same size. And the folks that poo-poo those sensors as crop sensors, that is just snobbery--645 was always considered the "baby" medium format, so why don't they have a "real" format like 6x7. Besides, there is no such thing as a crop sensor.

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    Those are just myths. It is no harder to use MFD than other cameras. While not an S2, I use a Pentax 645D handheld all the time. I shoot down to 1/8s and at ISO 1600 and I have found the DoF wide open easy to use.
    As a full time professional and portrait studio owner, I would disagree. There are obvious limitations that make mfd the wrong tool to use for many, many applications, and I'd say 1/8s, handheld, wide open at iso 1600 is one of them. I can't imagine a client paying me for the results from doing that.

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Quote Originally Posted by David Schneider View Post
    As a full time professional and portrait studio owner, I would disagree. There are obvious limitations that make mfd the wrong tool to use for many, many applications, and I'd say 1/8s, handheld, wide open at iso 1600 is one of them. I can't imagine a client paying me for the results from doing that.
    I guess there is only one type of "professional" photography. It is a pity documentary photographers are not "professional." And certainly we cannot use MFD for simply a hobby. Gee, I never knew I could not use my camera like I have been using it.

    I love GetDPI. You are the third member to imply I am not professional. I get my work published. I get my work exhibited. My clients like my work. But because I don't use cameras in a way others deem to be "correct," I must not actually have a real career in photography? But why share experiences? Maybe Guy could simply post the ten steps of what "professionals" do and we could just refer to that if we have questions. It would certainly lighten the traffic around here and we wouldn't have to bother to post.

    Peace friend. I am just always coming up against the commercial photographers in the neighborhood. You do your thing and may you proper by it. I will do the same.
    Last edited by Shashin; 24th October 2011 at 18:01.

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Shashin,

    I am sorry you read something into my post that wasn't there. I clearly showed where I was coming from with regard to my business. I never implied anything about you or there being only one type of "professional" photography. I suggest you re-read what I wrote.

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Quote Originally Posted by ptomsu View Post
    The S2 could easily be kind of my all in one MF and FF DSLR, if it had more lens options today (and I would win in the lottery ) ....

    But seriously, I consider the S system as the leading MF system when it comes to rugged design, ease of handling, best optical quality and of course highest IQ.

    And I could not care less if it is MF in someone's eyes or not. As I no longer care if for example any other camera or system is great in one's eye or not - it all depends on individual (my individual) needs and lust for a system.

    Peter
    No disagreement from me, as your perspective is one of a photographer more focused on the end results ... an argument I've been putting forth on another thread discussing competitive brands.

    -Marc

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    I guess there is only one type of "professional" photography. It is a pity documentary photographers are not "professional." And certainly we cannot use MFD for simply a hobby. Gee, I never knew I could not use my camera like I have been using it.

    I love GetDPI. You are the third member to imply I am not professional. I get my work published. I get my work exhibited. My clients like my work. But because I don't use cameras in a way others deem to be "correct," I must not actually have a real career in photography? But why share experiences? Maybe Guy could simply post the ten steps of what "professionals" do and we could just refer to that if we have questions. It would certainly lighten the traffic around here and we wouldn't have to bother to post.

    Peace friend. I am just always coming up against the commercial photographers in the neighborhood. You do your thing and may you proper by it. I will do the same.
    Personally, I didn't take David's post to mean you weren't a professional, he just outlined "his" professional requirements for an end result ... which you have to admit is a pretty common criteria for professional applications of MFD type gear, but most certainly not the only criteria.

    How anyone uses their gear whether doing so for money or not, is their business. Who can argue with success?

    As a very looooog time MFD user both for personal and professional applications, I would be remiss to not share my opinion that MFD is a more stringent task master compared for example to the M9 that the original question was referencing ... which somewhat set the criteria.

    This is where science comes in and cannot be discounted as a myth. The M9 is famous for lower shutter speed hand-held work because it doesn't have a mirror, and there is no mechanism analog or electronic mechanically stopping down the lens aperture. In addition the camera is very shallow and doesn't have much weight hanging out front (unless it's a Notilux or fast 75/90 mm optic) thus placing it closer to the center of gravity formed by the human bi-pod holding it . In essence, it is tantamount to shooting a DSLR of any size with a pancake lens, hand-held with the mirror up and the lens stopped down

    However, the S2 form factor does promote use that many (not all) would consider a bit iffy for MFD applications. That is both its charm and its danger. It all heavily depends on expectations for the end result. One person's criteria may be heavily skewed toward of the moment content (like documentary approaches), and there is a certain amount of leeway regarding adherence to conventional expectations that most MFD users would set as their criteria.

    I'm a bit in both camps as are quite a few other S2 users. Because I know my habit of pushing any piece of gear beyond it's conventional limits, I try to prepare for it. I have a dual lug hand-strap on my S2 and at least carry a mono-pod with me ... which I do not use as often as I should, but am fast learning that it is a good idea when possible an not restrictive to the desired creative approach. This camera has one center AF point, isn't image stabilized, and currently is limited to ISO 1250. In comparison, my Sony A900 has multiple AF points (that I DO use), can be shot at ISO 3200 (or even 6400 in a pinch with good exposure technique), and every lens I put on it is Image Stabilized.

    The final measure as to whether a S2 is right for you is your applications and your criteria for the end result.

    -Marc

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    When I use the S2 then I sometimes forget that it is MF, and I also sometimes forget to double check exposure times and then I am often surprized that images are still usable. (Sometimes not )

    Even if an image is not optimum sharp due to very slight shake you still take advantage of other things like bokeh of a lens, color etc.

    IMO we are often too much relying on restrictions we are used to and on what others say expect just trying things out and see how good they work.

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    I guess there is only one type of "professional" photography. It is a pity documentary photographers are not "professional." And certainly we cannot use MFD for simply a hobby. Gee, I never knew I could not use my camera like I have been using it.

    I love GetDPI. You are the third member to imply I am not professional. I get my work published. I get my work exhibited. My clients like my work. But because I don't use cameras in a way others deem to be "correct," I must not actually have a real career in photography? But why share experiences? Maybe Guy could simply post the ten steps of what "professionals" do and we could just refer to that if we have questions. It would certainly lighten the traffic around here and we wouldn't have to bother to post.

    Peace friend. I am just always coming up against the commercial photographers in the neighborhood. You do your thing and may you proper by it. I will do the same.
    I honestly think your carrying that torch to far. No one ever said that or implied it. Moreover it has nothing to do with you as a Pro.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Does it have any lenses other than the 70 available yet? A wide angle?

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jan Brittenson View Post
    Does it have any lenses other than the 70 available yet? A wide angle?
    Yes, there are 4 lenses for the S2. 35, 70, 120 Macro, and a 180mm. I have all four and have for some time now.

    -Marc

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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    Marc, have you downloaded the C1 profile from the Leica users area? I'm curious how Leica's custom developed profile compares to the stock profile in C1 for the Leica S2.
    Last edited by John Black; 28th October 2011 at 11:35. Reason: Typo...

  29. #29
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    Re: S2 ... It IS a Medium Format Machine!

    That's awesome. I'd love an S2 some day. "Real MF" or not - it's the right mix of SLR usability and portability - with the quality every bit as capable as larger MF systems.

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