Photo find

The cuts and bruises are healing and I am back in the gym doing some light workouts. Strictly under professional supervision of course. The back and ribs are not yet sufficiently strong to carry my 20lb backpack of gear so I have done some gentle walks with my Leica.

Over the last 12 months I have spent a lot of time listening to podcasts and more recently watching photography videos on YouTube. It was on the latter that I discovered the excellent John Kasko. He has a relaxed, gentle style. His videos are laudably short to match my attention span. He recently posted a video about (Honestly) this is the best 50mm lens I’ve ever owned. Well of course that is some claim but it wasn’t a promotional video and I liked what I saw. I did some further research and concluded this was worth trying. Now John shoots with a Leica M11, one up from my M10R so I knew it came in an M mount. Tin Cheung had one in stock so I am now the proud owner of an f2 Voigtlander 50mm APO Lanthar. Why do I need another 50mm lens. Well I don’t need the lens but I definitely want it and it hasn’t come off the M10R since I acquired it.

The Voigtlander isn’t the fastest 50mm at f2. My Noctilux is f0.95. My TTArtisan is f1.4 and I have an f2 Summicron so this is sheer greed. Except it isn’t. The Summicron and I have never bonded. I don’t like the aperture ring and the lens hood slides in and out in an annoying fashion. It is a bit small for my hands. The TT is a decent lens for the money – under £300. Made in China and a decent piece of kit. But you get what you pay for. The Noctilux is a fabulous lens but big, heavy and partially blocks the viewfinder. And it costs the same as a decent car. The images are astonishingly good in the hands of an accomplished photographer. The Voigtlander ….. well the ergonomics are perfect. The aperture ring has a most pleasing click to it. The focus throw is short. The colour rendition is sublime. And it is sharp. Very, very sharp. It is a solid lens without being heavy and it balances beautifully on the camera body. And it costs a fraction of the Summicron. Under US$1,000 unless you want a lens hood ($100 extra). But the coatings reduce flare to a minimum. I bought the hood to protect against accidental knocks not because it needs it. I can only thank John Kasko for making his video. This is a top class lens.

Here is a shot I took with it which has done very well on Flickr with over 6,000 views in the Explore section.

Fishing off the promenade
Fishing off the promenade

This shot led me to connect with another HK photographer. We discovered we live about 200m apart and we are going to meet up. He mentioned to me a Leica service specialist in Central . So tomorrow I am going to take my late dad’s old Elmar 50mm f2.8 (yes, another 50mm lens) to be cleaned and serviced. This lens is 60+ years old and I shall be interested to see how it performs when cleaned up. Lenses are deeply personal. You may like the look and I may not. Old lenses are less technically perfect but sometimes have character that is missing on a modern lens. Perhaps I will find that with the Elmar.

I am hopeful that in the next few days I shall be sufficiently fit to go out for a hike. But in the meantime the Voigtlander is providing all the entertainment I need.

14 thoughts on “Photo find

  1. Lovely to hear from you Andrew and I’m sorry to hear about your back, backs are a tricky thing to heal, my friend Chiara is a back care specialist and she does gentle Pilates classes to strengthen and restore people’s mobility. Good luck and lovely photo.

  2. Glad the healing is moving along. Time goes slow while waiting but moves faster than we realize. You’ll be out there in due time. Meanwhile take the best care of yourself.

  3. Lovely review of the Leica. I had no idea that one could equal the cost of an automobile or was that a bit of a stretch. Your dad’s old camera sounds wonderful and since I am sentimental, it is good to know that you will not part with it. I love the monotone that you posted. Great contrast and I can see that an expensive camera makes a world of difference when shooting in B&W.

    • Hi Yvonne, I think the Noctilux retails for US$13k so I don’t know what car you would get for that today. Maybe a used one. The cost of the camera is always secondary to the quality of the photographer’s eye but higher end camera and lenses make things possible or easier that others can’t do as well. A good example is shooting in very low light. But most manufacturers sell very good cameras now. Leica cameras – the M series – are all manual. Nothing is automated. You choose everything. They are different rather than better I suppose. Simple, beautifully designed and incredibly resilient. Very hard to damage. Dad’s camera was made in 1959. I had it restored years ago. I don’t have much of his but there are some things that go beyond any monetary value. Just scraps of letters he wrote to me for example. Years pass but memories are still vivid. He’s been gone 36 years.

  4. Good to hear you are on the way to a full recovery and are already out enjoying yourself again. Also, good on you for buying the lens. You might not have needed it but it’s going to give you much pleasure.

  5. It is so good to hear how your healing is progressing and that you can get out for a gentle walk.

    The people in your photo are fascinating in their shared fascination. Like birds on a line, they have arrayed themselves along the fence at precise distances from each other and are all doing the same thing! This is such a strong composition. I can’t wait to see what you do with your dad’s lens when it is cleaned up.

    • Thanks Melissa. I’m taking it slowly. The photo works well. It’s a favourite spot of mine to linger. I was thinking of you this evening – it’s odd how people you have never met feel like old friends and you worry about them just as much. I have used dad’s lens many years ago on a film camera. So it will be exciting if the man can clean it up and I can enjoy it again. I will never part with it. Best wishes as always. Andrew

      • Thank you Andrew.
        I have things of my father’s, too, that I will never part with. It is fun to think what your dad would make of digital cameras.

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