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Breakfast at Oslo Airport Leica M240 / Elmarit 28

In my last post, I mentioned that I intended to deliver a print of my “one picture” to the subject of that picture, in Venice. It was taken ten years ago, as of this writing. I went back to the place where I took the photo, but, alas, the store that was there, was replaced by another. I showed the photo to the neighboring shops asking whether they knew the little girl in the photo, or her family, and even if the store moved elsewhere. Nobody knew, but I got a smile from their faces as I showed them the photo. Needless to say, I was disappointed. But, as my friend Matt likes to say, naja.

I decided that on this vacation, I would concentrate more on my environment (reportage style), rather than selective subjects, as I intend to do, so I acquired a 28mm lens for my Leica: the Elmarit-M 28. Spoiler: it didn’t quite work out that way. Instead I got a mixed bag of images, which I quite satisfied with. Along with the 28mm, I brought along the Summilux-M 50mm for portraits of Carline and artsy-type images where subject separation is necessary. I took 510 shot, with only 70 of them with the 50mm.

I don’t like taking “vacation photos”, per se, but I did because I wanted to document the vacation, but the photos are not “shareable”. In other words, you can find the same photos on the web. The ones I would share are those that I took “differently”, or of a detail that is not the primary subject of a landmark, etc. But mostly, I tried to take photos of the human condition. I’m always fascinated by that.

If you research the Elmarit lens, you’ll find reviews which say that the lens is very “well behaved” and quite sharp edge to edge, even wide open at f2.8. Other would also say that this lens has no “character”, I tend to agree, but it’s the smallest M lens, so my camera slipped easily in my full Metro Backpack while wizzing through airports (though it cause security to manually check my bag. Naja). The Summilux 50 lived in a Leica lens case, in my Bellroy Venture Sling, most of the time.

I shot only in RAW (DNG) and not the usual RAW&JPEG because I’m finally am able to closely reproduce the look of the Leica M240’s black and white simulation. I’ve always suspected that the M240 simulated Kodak Tri-X 400 film, so after experimenting with many “film simulation brands”, I finally found Digistock’s Tri-X for CaptureOne Pro, the closest to the M240’s JPEGS. Here is a side-by-side comparison of a JPEG straight from the camera and a DNG processed with the Digistock Tri-X style:

B&W JPEG Leica M240 / Elmarit-M 28
DNG Processed with Digistock film simulation

You’ll noticed that the processed DNG looks sharper. I believe that the Digistock style adds structure/contrast to the midtones, making the image look sharper. I like it.

I was surprised how much more contrasty the images are with the Elmarit 28 than with the Summilux 50. This could very well be because of where I was shooting. Venice and Rome have these tight corridors that let in directional light, thus creating a “natural chiaroscuro” in the scene. Or it could very well be my imagination. I haven’t analyzed this using test shots, so this could very well be happenstance.

Bridal party at Cafe Florian. Leica M240 / Elmarit-M 28

Most of my shooting was done at f5.6 and zone focusing. I set the zone between 6 and 30ft. I only had to change the ISO. One could point out that I could use auto ISO, but I feel that I have less control. I also, oftentimes, set the shutter to a specific speed, since, even though the lighting was directional, it was quite consistent most of the time. Doing this allowed me to shoot without having to bring attention to myself. The shot of the bride and groom was taken while I sipped my cappuccino.

The photographic experience this time around is reminiscent of my first trip to Italy shooting with the Fujifilm X10. Even though I’m quite familiar with the 28mm perspective, shooting almost exclusively with it proved to be a mental challenge as before. And as before, I was surprised with the results. Too bad that I never got to deliver “Girl in Shop” to the girl from the shop, but I enjoyed my time celebrating Carline’s birthday and our anniversary. We also made a few friends, a new client, and spent a lot of money on “things”.

Can’t wait to do it again.

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