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Post-processing for the M8: What is the Leica-look?


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Hello all.

 

I am new to Leica and absolutely have bought in (more ways than one) to the whole philosophy... but something is on my mind:

 

If everyone -- and I use that loosely, not to offend anyone -- uses the same LR or PS presets, filters, etc... what exactly is the quantitative benefit from using a camera like the one we all have?

 

Is there a particular benefit that these programs receive from the DNG or JPG files we feed them?

 

Or is it just about the feel of the camera and all this digital stuff just about the same?

 

How should we approach that "leica-look"?

 

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I am basically trying to discover a good workflow and see if the in-camera processing or desktop variety best in general? Obviously we all have varying taste and eyes but I am curious what better and more seasoned photographers have to say.

 

Thanks.

 

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Roman Vail

 

Leica M8

Leica 90mm f/2

Carl Zeiss 28mm f/2.8

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The file format color Leica was trying to achieve was Kodachrome so they say.

 

Use the "embedded" camera profile and it comes out straight away provided you have taken the photo with uv/ir filter and the white balance is correct and your monitor is profiled to correct color. Without the uv/ir filter, the camera produces rather off colors, worst being some black objects will go purple, but all colors are off to one degree or another.

 

Actually the profile is off realism so feel free to change the colors.

 

I have used the adobe profile editor to neutralize what the camera firmware does. My skies are no longer cyan, flesh is normal.

 

If you like the color, do nothing.

 

The benefit from Leica is the small size compared to full frame slr and the lenses tend to be sharper at wide stops. There is no AA filter or a more subdued one in front of the sensor which leads to a sharper image all other things being equal. The disadvantage is moire occasionally.

Edited by tobey bilek
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Oh thanks. I guess that makes sense, with a Kodak developed sensor inside the M8.

 

Good to know. What are some filters you like to use?

 

So using another film type with the "native" kodachrome -- is that what really throws off color you mean?

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Occasionally the Leica swing out pola filter to control reflections off leaves and to saturate colors, Never for sky control.

 

All lenses are fitted with B+W 486 uv.ir filter which I leave on when using the M9.

 

When I buy a lens, I just order the filter with it. Without the filter, all colors are ruined. I tried doing some corrections in PS and could not repair them to my satisfaction.

 

Leica tried to match Kodachrome colors for whatever reason. The S2 for $25000 is the same. The M9 largely corrects it. In my experience, all camera manufactures try to achieve a neutral balance .

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No such thing as the Leica look. Show people prints and they won't know the camera or lens used, let alone PP techniques employed. Nor will they care.

 

It's still about the pics, and the skill of the photographer, just as it always has been. Lots of people bought the same film cameras and/or used the same darkroom equipment; thankfully that never resulted in one 'look' for each combination.

 

DNG affords the most creative flexibility, and better preserves future control. But, even then, no law against using JPEG, nor will anyone know.

 

Create your own vision and style. Lots of ways to get there, with lots of gear and materials.

 

And make prints. If one only produces for the screen, one has no idea how the 'look' appears on someone else's screen.

 

Jeff

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How should we approach that "leica-look"?

 

 

By forgetting you ever saw it.

 

Concentrate on your own look, make the camera do what you want it to do.

 

There is no harm in taking inspiration from other photographers, but take it from their work not the camera they use. In reality there is no 'Leica look', pre-sets and JPEG's are just starting points, invented by somebody in a lab who wrote some software so the images hopefully don't look dire if you do nothing to them. That is the camera creating an image. Photography is when the photographer makes decisions.

 

Steve

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No such thing as the Leica look. Show people prints and they won't know the camera or lens used, let alone PP techniques employed. Nor will they care.

 

It's still about the pics, and the skill of the photographer, just as it always has been. Lots of people bought the same film cameras and/or used the same darkroom equipment; thankfully that never resulted in one 'look' for each combination.

 

DNG affords the most creative flexibility, and better preserves future control. But, even then, no law against using JPEG, nor will anyone know.

 

Create your own vision and style. Lots of ways to get there, with lots of gear and materials.

 

And make prints. If one only produces for the screen, one has no idea how the 'look' appears on someone else's screen.

 

Jeff

 

 

Yes, I definitely appreciate that. I had a few Canon cameras with good lenses and made some comparisons to the M8 I have now: similar shots with similar DOF feel better like the focus really wraps around the subject. Plus everything just seems cleaner so long as I stay under an ISO of 640.

 

Perhaps I got better? Perhaps I am naturally drawn to this feel of camera where I dont rely on AF or free-for-all, any ISO is good mentality with a 5DIII?

 

I gather that because now I have to really think about the shots, focusing on the photo/subject that it just yields better results... and in that Leica cameras are genius.

 

But I still feel like it just looks better, feels better... I mean, if it all didnt really matter --we'd be using camera phones. Good thing camera bodies do actually mean something.

 

Thanks for all the encouragement.

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I mean, if it all didnt really matter --we'd be using camera phones

 

Most people do these days, and don't make prints. But I've seen some wonderful prints using phones, and I bet you would have no idea about the gear used if not told.

 

A happy photographer likely takes more pics, and increases the odds for better pics, so if the camera makes you happy, then there's that. And sometimes there are technical needs that require a certain type of gear.

 

In the digital realm, though, I generally get much bigger bang for the buck investing time and money in what happens after I take the pic...papers, printer, inks, profiles, editing software, technique improvements, etc....than from any camera upgrade.

 

Of course not of that matters without a good pic to start. And that's not camera specific, but deserves the most attention.

 

Jeff

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People spoke of the 'Leica look' long before any digital cameras came along, so it has nothing to do with the M8 as such.

 

It applied to the earlier cameras and lenses - I don't know when the phrase was first used but I suspect is has more to do with the style of photography that a small rangefinder camera with a relatively fast and useable lens encouraged. So we're talking about the original Leica's.

 

Of course plenty of other rangefinder cameras followed, so the 'Leica look' isn't exclusive to Leica, and as a photographer you should be defining your own look, not trying to emulate a generic style.

 

Finally, I'd be happy to be able to produce images like these with any camera, let alone an iphone! Do these have the 'Leica look'? Flickr: Basetrack's Photostream

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