Kerry Photos: Blog en-us (C) Michael McGillycuddy [email protected] (Kerry Photos) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:26:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:26:00 GMT Kerry Photos: Blog 120 116 Five Minutes That Made Me Fall In Love Again With A Leica I had been thinking about my Leica M8 a lot recently. Well, maybe not so much thinking about it but rather evaluating it, in my own mind at least. It's old (by digital standards anyway) so resolution is getting dwarfed by many the camera these days and upping the ISO is a risky business simply because its not too fond of going beyond ISO 640. It's quirky: the battery power indicator might as well be a sticker and it gets a little upset if you put anything but premium brand memory cards in it (sorry Fujifilm, but this M8 chewed up and spat out one of your perfectly good cards). I began to consider how many lenses and accessories I could get for my Nikon equipment for the price of a used Leica 35mm lens. To add furrows to my already troubled brow, Leica unveiled their new range of products last Thursday (May 10th 2012). 


Along with an innovative camera that only shoots in black and white two things caught my eye. One was a set of limited edition cameras with Hermes leather priced at either $25,000 or $50,000. Yes, that is FIFTY followed by three ZEROES. I really couldn't care about such trinkets for the rich but then came the bombshell with the announcement of new 50mm "Summicron" lens. For those who might not know Leica name all their models of lenses in the same way Ford have the Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo, etc and this "Summicron" is considered a gateway lens into the world of Leica. Its not the most expensive (by a LOOOOONG way) but its also not the cheapest. If you walk into your friendly camera dealer and hand over 1,700 of your hard earned Euros you will be the proud owner of one of these. Well, the older model anyway. The new one costs a whopping €6,000!!! That's a price hike of over 300%. And I thought Germans were opposed to inflation!! Now I had no plans to go buy one but the upsetting thing is that it more than likely means a lot of their upcoming products are going to be priced so beyond what is feasible for an enthusiast especially one who is sadly not blessed with ownership of an oil-refinery. So by now, my relationship with Leica and my own little M8 was kinda low.


Fast forward to Saturday and we decided to pack Luke and Cillian into the car and drove to Killarney and into the National Park. Luke wanted to walk along with me and brought his own little camera, as did I (without even thinking it was the M8 I picked up before leaving). Cillian would take it upon himself to control proceedings from his buggy and point out all the cows and deer and horses that we saw. After a few minutes walk we got to a small clearing of trees with a host of bluebells in the undergrowth. Curiosity took the better of Luke, as is natural with any 3 year old, and in he wandered. The play of light and shadow within the trees and along the bluebells presented an ideal setting for a few hastily taken shots all the while feverishly trying to keep Luke in focus while maintaining my balance. As I took them I didn't have to look back at the pics on the LCD screen. I knew I had something special. They might not be special to anyone else but for us they were perfect moments of one of our boys completely lost in thought and oblivious to my very presence. I just wish Cillian had been trotting around as well so that I could have got a shot of the two of them together. Chances are, though, they'd have ended up fighting over a twig or something!! 


And that's when I remembered why I adore this camera, the lenses and that company. They do things differently but they give you the tools to capture moments perfectly. There are no fancy menu pages to navigate with tons of options. There's no autofocus. There's a shutter speed dial, an aperture dial on the lens, a shutter button, a view-finder and that's about it. But the rendering, the depth and richness of colour. There wasn't much I had to do with these photos once I loaded them onto the computer. Just the usual tweak of contrast and tonality. Add to this a size and weight that no DLSR with a good lens can match. 


For the second photo, I lost my balance so there was a slight movement as I took the picture but I think it added something to it at the same time. The loss in detail creates an image that is a little more dreamlike and a little warming of the colors in post-processing did the rest


So after a few minutes shooting all my misgivings seem to have disappated. O.K., it's old but 10 megapixels is plenty and this thing has enough sharpness that you can upscale to 20 megapixels. Poor high ISO? No problem, sure don't I have "fast" lenses. Why would I not want the very best memory cards to record these precious images. And sure don't I have a few spare batteries. Perhaps these and other imperfections in the camera mean I have to work harder to get an image but, man, when it produces images like this I just fall in love with this camera and its lenses time after time, after time.  Leonard Cohen has a line in the song Anthem which goes "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in" and it is very true. It's in overcoming little challenges and learning to work around them that we sometimes see the beauty and get the best out of the world around us. So, Leica, I forgive you these imperfections and I am sorry I ever doubted your products. Now, the imperfections in your pricing policies, that's for another day!!



[email protected] (Kerry Photos) Leica Leica M Tue, 15 May 2012 21:35:38 GMT
My Camera Gear For my first entry in this blog I figured I’d give a brief rundown of the equipment I use. As a gadget geek myself I always love to know the sort of equipment others use although I know camera gear should come secondary to capturing the image. Both of my two cameras are old now by digital standards. I have not replaced them simply because they are still extremely good and I would rather invest money into superior lenses than having an additional 4 or 5 more megapixels. There are too many good cameras falling victim to incremental camera upgrades. Anyway, that’s enough of an introduction.



Nikon D300

Nikkor 18-200mm f3.5 - f5.6

Nikkor 35mm f1.8

Sigma 70-200 f2.8

Sigma 50mm f2.8 (Macro)

Sigma 10-20mm f4 -f5.6


The Nikon is the workhorse. It can be relied upon for pretty much any type of photograph as the range of lenses allow it to be as versatile as possible.

The Nikkor 18-200mm is great for general shooting. If I need to travel “light” but don't know what kind of scene I'll be photographing this is a safe bet, especially outdoors.

For work where low light is a given the Sigma 70-200mm is a great all rounder as that f2.8 aperture makes things that much easier in poor light. I supplement this with the Nikkor 35mm f1.8 lens for a wider view in low light. The f1.8 aperture means it leaves in over twice as much light as the 70-200mm.

The Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens is used relatively rarely and is really only for large landscape work.

The Sigma 50mm f2.8 macro lens is great for those close-up details but also doubles as a nice portrait lens. Someday I may replace it for a lens with a longer focal length but for now this lens produces some lovely results


Lecia M8

Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux

Voigtlander 75mm f1.8 Heliar Classic


To many (including myself) Leica is as close to photographic royalty as they get. They practically invented 35mm photography and their range of M "rangefinder" cameras have changed very little in appearance and simplicity since the 1950s. These wonderful photographic instruments are combined with some of the best glass that has ever been produced to allow for images that have a distinctive signature all of their own. When I began learning digital photography my camera had few menu options or customization. After a while I thought that I needed more. More buttons, more controls, more dials, more menu options. The M is the very opposite. Select shutter speed and aperture. That's it. Forget special effects or multi-exposures. It has been a revelation for me. I know that Leica has its critics and some cannot warm to the charms of an M but for me it as close to analogue photography one can get in digital form. The 35mm Summilux lens is a classic design that breathes life into images even where there is very little light.

My latest lens is the Voigtlander 75mm f1.8. I took a little bit of a chance with this one as I traded a very nice Leica 50mm f2.5 lens for it. I was looking for something that could get close when needed but also could be used in lower light conditions. So far the Voigtlander has impressed me. It's a big lens and not one I'd use on it every day but it's good to know it will give a bit more reach for the M8 if and when it’s needed.


So that's it; 2 camera bodies and 7 lenses. The two cameras are oldish but as both are above 10 megapixels they will still produce fine big prints whenever needed. My collection of lenses is, I feel, up for most tasks and are well above the average kit lens ability. My love of prime lenses (i.e. fixed focal length, no zoom) continues to grow. Although the zoom lenses that I have from the Nikon make life very easy at times there is something about a prime lens that makes me feel like I’m doing more than pressing the shutter button. In an age where convenience is king this might seem like a backward step but it isn't. These lenses just seem to work better and give better images. They also make you work a little more. You cannot rely on a zoom to get the picture you want. Sometimes it means selecting an alternative viewpoint which can turn out to be a whole lot better. If I had one tip concerning new equipment it is this: If you have a camera that continues to serve you well but that little voice inside you is telling you it’s time to make a new purchase spend that money on new glass and not on a new camera. A good lens will last a lifetime.


[email protected] (Kerry Photos) Leica Leica M Nikon D300 Summilux camera gear Sat, 31 Mar 2012 23:49:47 GMT