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photo essay review of cameras Uncategorized

La vida leica redux

I am not a documentary photographer.

Laugh as you might at my philistine ignorance, but the concept of Impressionism in photography is new to me. Too often have my images been critiqued as too saturated, modified, edited etc., what have you.

Sod it all. And to all of you heartless critics, you can take your opinions and store it where the sun don’t shine. (I would have added an angry “For all I care!”, but it is obvious that I do)

I like taking pictures. I like editing them to give my impression of what I see. And my present weapon of choice is the Leica SL (not that rebadged Panasonic, which is the Leica SL2) , but the original Leica SL. With its humble 24MP sensor. Without sensor-shift image stabilization. Without the high-ISO range of the SL2-S.

And before you SoNikCanon fanboys proclaim their AF superiority, I only use traditional manual focus adapted R and L lenses. Also this is not a camera review. Nor is it a lens review. It is a review of the past year of MY pictures. Nothing more or less.

The typ601 Leica SL is one I got used in mint condition from Adorama. With an unfilled warranty and registration, this baby is mine as far as Leica knows. Like the m9P that preceded it (as my go-to), the construction is beautiful, but the buttons are stupid and despite everyone swearing at how naturally things fell to hand, the Panasonics, Sonys and Nikons of this world and yes, the old M9P, has this beat. Even after a year, I am constantly struggling with the ISO, the focus assist and EVF/LCD switch as well as that damn video (creation of Satan) button.

The lenses I use are an interesting combination and I will discuss them individually. From a pre-ASPH Elmarit 21mm M, my favorite Summilux-M 50mm, the quirky Apo Macro Elmarit-R 100mm, and the incredibly flexible Vario Elmar F4 80-200, it is an adequate range of brushes to satisfy the breadth of my artistic palette. Oh, and yes, unless artistically inclined otherwise, I almost always am wide open aperture.

The King.

In my book, there is every other lens, and then there is the Summilux-M 50 1.4. Compact, sharp and with colors to die for. Whether edited in post or not, images are simply gorgeous.

The quiet Ace

The Elmarit M 21mm is a shockingly small and light lens. Like most ultra-wides, very easy to focus as most things are often in focus wide open. Amazing as a travel companion, the heft of the SL that provides it that wonderful balance in hand, completely overshadows the 21, which feels like a lens cap by comparison. I even did an entire trip on one lens without missing the other lenses. The max aperture of 2.8 is a limitation, but the added bulk of the 1.4 21mm cousin, makes this a compromise (and financial bonus) that I am happy to make. Plus, like all Leicas, colors to die for.

Jack the Sportsman

No leica lens will ever be a Jack of all trades. They are ALL that special. Still, a lens that can do so much more is the Vario Elmar R 80-200 mm zoom lens. Amazingly beautiful to hold and use, balancing beautifully on the SL. Even without IS, gives some remarkable pictures.

The odd one out.

The Apo Macro Elmarit-R 100 is a strange bird. Incredibly bulky with a very very long throw, and despite incredible sharpness, a very dry Zeiss-like presentation. Still, adds full-on macro capabilities to my set and when used for portraits can be a very interesting lens indeed.

Yup.

Those were my pics with my edits on Lightroom.

Nope. You don’t need to like them because I like them plenty.

At the end of the day, it is as much about the pictures as the fun I have had composing them, focusing them, exposing them and developing them. Maybe your smartphone does better. And can focus automatically. And expose. And is much lighter. Which is a wonderful thing.

La Vida Leica is a Happy Cow!

Like happy cows and good milk (from that terrible ad), I firmly believe that the photographer’s relationship with his/her camera greatly drives the pictures they take. It has nothing to do with the technical characteristics of the camera, but everything to do with how your camera inspires you to be creative.

By Kartik Mani

Widely known for my extremely poor sense of humor, my life revolves around being an interventional cardiologist in the daytime; a molecular and cell biologist, when not placing stents in peoples arteries; a blogger when I get the time; a philosopher, when epiphany strikes; a rangefinder artist, when provided the inspiration and subjects; a car nut of staggering proportions; and Son, Brother, Dad and Husband to the greatest family known to mankind.

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