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The main problem of the "Leica look"


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I would also like to add after using Sony FF mirrorless extensively since the start of the Sony FF mirrorless roll-out and have edited tens of thousands of Sony images, I do not see any identifiable "Look" among Sony native optics. You can however, achieve very nice pop/3D/depth/separation, but not something I would call a recognizable "look" and Sony have some incredible glass. But and IMO each new Sony lens produced comes with a different look and in particular a different color output. I do however see a recognizable pattern/look and color when I use Zeiss Batis Lenses on the Sony system. Most believe Zeiss Batis lenses were manufactured by Tamron. However Zeiss designed the Batis optics and of course each Zeiss Batis lens starts with a basic time honored Zeiss design formula : Zeiss Distagon ( Batis 18, 25, 40) and  Zeiss Sonnar (Batis 85,135)

https://www.zeiss.com/consumer-products/us/home/website/photography/zeiss-batis-lenses.html

Edited by LBJ2
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2 minutes ago, andybarton said:

This is one of the first photographs I took, with my first Leica, an M2 with a 1973 50 Summicron. It was probably taken on Astia, or another Fuji E6 film. It was definitely the first Leica shot I had printed.

I was amazed by the 3D-ness of it. My dealer in Manchester was right. He said, on seeing the print, that you could almost put your fingers behind the ship.

 

Sadly, this view is no longer with us.

 

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The illusion of 3D is certainly a significant factor IMHO. (I say "illusion" because an image on paper or on a screen is of course a 2D one in actuality.) My first Leica was a Minilux, bought for me as a present. The lens was (is) a classic double Gauss design by Leica (Kölsch I think). My younger son, who has no knowledge of, nor interest in photography whatsoever, on looking at the prints from my first film, remarked  (completely unsolicited by me or anyone else btw,) that they had a 3D quality that he did not usually see in photographs. So it wasn't simply me seeing what I wanted to see. That was essentially what set me off on this absurdly expensive trail.

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I don’t think anyone is saying there is no leica look. I think people are saying yes of course there is, but then there is a Sony look and a Canon look etc. I think the argument is that the look is no better or worse than any other, it’s subjective.

I would argue that it does not improve your photography at all beyond the subjective aspects. Would Steve McCurry’s back catalogue of images be THAT MUCH better had he used Leica gear over Nikon? Doubt it. Happy to be wrong.

I shoot Leica because of how they feel in my hand. The look is a bonus.

We could all choose our favourite 50 images of all time, see¬†how many were shot entirely on Leica gear, and get an answer from the data. I know for a fact that I prefer the ‚ÄúKodachrome shot on any old camera‚Ä̬†look.

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15 minutes ago, P1505 said:

I don’t think anyone is saying there is no leica look. I think people are saying yes of course there is, but then there is a Sony look and a Canon look etc. I think the argument is that the look is no better or worse than any other, it’s subjective.

I would argue that it does not improve your photography at all beyond the subjective aspects. Would Steve McCurry’s back catalogue of images be THAT MUCH better had he used Leica gear over Nikon? Doubt it. Happy to be wrong.

I shoot Leica because of how they feel in my hand. The look is a bonus.

We could all choose our favourite 50 images of all time, see¬†how many were shot entirely on Leica gear, and get an answer from the data. I know for a fact that I prefer the ‚ÄúKodachrome shot on any old camera‚Ä̬†look.

This topic comes up all the time, year after year in many forums. From my own brief tenure with Leica, there are many on this forum and other forums who matter of factly will state there is no such thing a the Leica look and will even tease, mock the same. They have already posted on this thread and for sure more to come. I noted one previously unbeliever known from previous Leica Look threads now in this thread interesting enough seems to have become a Leica Look believer...that's interesting. 

Emotions, culture, experience, training, bias and biology all contribute to how each of us experience life and the arts/technology differently. Hard to tell anyone they are right or wrong if they perceive or don't perceive. It is what it is but IMO always makes for a very interesting thread topic.

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I guess we need to split things up. Digital vs film Leica. With film the body is just a light tight box, so the only factor is the lens and the film and Leica don’t make film. And I’d think that of course Leica lenses render in a unique Leica way.

With digital you have to throw in the sensor, all the micro lenses and other layers of filters and glass and stuff. And then the in camera software. Of course, 100% that will result in a different look. Can’t argue that at all.

So all there is to argue is which one is better, which is an argument only the foolish would engage in unless in jest. As it’s personal.

Once it hits Lightroom, all bets are off. All I know is my Sony gear was sold because everything looks cold and clinical and the Leica stuff feels warm and alive. To me. Not to everyone.

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IMO the look is due mainly to the optical design and how the lens is made which are all repeatable processes regardless if the lens is made for film or digital. 

Yes, film in particular and the dark room can have a great effect on the aesthetics of an image just as post processing. Several different sensor related technologies and in-camera colour processing also. But the lens signature and even colour can still present a "look" unique to a specific optical formula and production process even when used on different film, sensors etc. I have noted harsh light, natural or artificial can destroy the unique "look" film or digital and heavy editing can of course erase the same.

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2 hours ago, LBJ2 said:

I would also like to add after using Sony FF mirrorless extensively since the start of the Sony FF mirrorless roll-out and have edited tens of thousands of Sony images, I do not see any identifiable "Look" among Sony native optics. You can however, achieve very nice pop/3D/depth/separation, but not something I would call a recognizable "look" and Sony have some incredible glass. But and IMO each new Sony lens produced comes with a different look and in particular a different color output. I do however see a recognizable pattern/look and color when I use Zeiss Batis Lenses on the Sony system. Most believe Zeiss Batis lenses were manufactured by Tamron. However Zeiss designed the Batis optics and of course each Zeiss Batis lens starts with a basic time honored Zeiss design formula : Zeiss Distagon ( Batis 18, 25, 40) and  Zeiss Sonnar (Batis 85,135)

https://www.zeiss.com/consumer-products/us/home/website/photography/zeiss-batis-lenses.html

An image I took with a Zeiss Batis 135 ( Sonnar) from a Sony sensor with one of thickest sensor stacks on the market, even post processed, is able to present what I think display characteristics associated with the Zeiss 3D Pop. * If you don't see the pop, step back from your monitor 1 to 2 M.

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7 hours ago, Chaemono said:

Scanned and converted to DNGs, of course. The process confers¬†an extra glow to the pictures.¬†ūüėČ

The phrase "the Leica look" and "the Leica glow" long, long predate the existence of scanners and .DNGs. One can find it in magazines such as Popular/Modern Photography from the 1950s. Sometimes it was expanded into comparing "German Flint Glass" with "Japanese Rare-Earth Glass," although frankly I doubt that was the real difference.

Therefore, the idea that "Only untouched DNGs qualify for the Leica look IMO" is nonsense, or at best grossly incomplete and unobservant.

Whatever "the Leica look" may be (or whether it exists at all), it was obviously distinguishable to many using film and paper alone, with no electronic intervention.

__________________________

Here is my sample of one of the possible distinctive looks I associate with Leitz/Leica lenses. It is with the 135mm APO-Telyt on an M9. I show a crop and the whole image because the key lies in the interaction of the micro-contrasts of small details with the macro-contrast of the whole scene.

But the funny thing is, the first time this look jumped up and slapped me in the face was with a similar portrait composition, and a 50mm Elmar f/3.5 on a IIIc (and Tri-X) in 1973 or thereabouts. When I saw this image pop up on the computer screen, it was "deja vue all over again." ;) So it is something consistent in the DNA of Leica lens design.

(However, I would not be surprised if someone can get something similar with this or that Sony/Zeiss/Nikkor/Canon/Voigtlander - it might just take more work. And not every Leica lens behaves exactly the same way).

I would classify this as falling in the area of "a kind of contrast." Strong microcontrasts and control of the point-spread function (i.e. even the smallest edges well-defined by tonal separation), without resorting to strong macro-contrast (the overall laydown of tones from black to white). Or in other words, Leica doesn't quit worrying about MTF at 40 lpmm just because that is where the charts end*. They still appreciate raw resolution. But they would prefer to not blitz the highlights or block the shadows with overall contrast (what my friend meant when he claimed Nikkors has "contrast in all the wrong places").

It might also qualify as "3-Dness" in that the microcontrasts emphasize the pits and wrinkles and hairs and flesh with a certain stark chiaroscuro,** while the brighter grays of the nose tip and the background still separate. That chiaroscuro might also qualify as a kind of "glow" - although I tend to reserve that term for the pre-1985 Summiluxes' spherical-aberration halos.

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___________

* I believe Peter Karbe said, regarding the SL lenses, that Leica might have to start charting MTF all the way down to 60 lpmm.

** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiaroscuro

 

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38 minutes ago, LBJ2 said:

An image I took with a Zeiss Batis 135 ( Sonnar) from a Sony sensor with one of thickest sensor stacks on the market, even post processed, is able to present what I think display characteristics associated with the Zeiss 3D Pop. * If you don't see the pop, step back from your monitor 1 to 2 M.

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I see the pop. Do you still use your sony ? If not, why? Was it the look? 

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1 minute ago, adan said:

The phrase "the Leica look" and "the Leica glow" long, long predate the existence of scanners and .DNGs. One can find it in magazines such as Popular/Modern Photography from the 1950s. Sometimes it was expanded into comparing "German Flint Glass" with "Japanese Rare-Earth Glass," although frankly I doubt that was the real difference.

Therefore, the idea that "Only untouched DNGs qualify for the Leica look IMO" is nonsense, or at best grossly incomplete and unobservant.

Whatever "the Leica look" may be (or whether it exists at all), it was obviously distinguishable to many using film and paper alone, with no electronic intervention.

__________________________

Here is my sample of one of the possible distinctive looks I associate with Leitz/Leica lenses. It is with the 135mm APO-Telyt on an M9. I show a crop and the whole image because the key lies in the interaction of the micro-contrasts of small details with the macro-contrast of the whole scene.

But the funny thing is, the first time this look jumped up and slapped me in the face was with a similar portrait composition, and a 50mm Elmar f/3.5 on a IIIc (and Tri-X) in 1973 or thereabouts. When I saw this image pop up on the computer screen, it was "deja vue all over again." ;) So it is something consistent in the DNA of Leica lens design.

(However, I would not be surprised if someone can get something similar with this or that Sony/Zeiss/Nikkor/Canon/Voigtlander - it might just take more work. And not every Leica lens behaves exactly the same way).

I would classify this as falling in the area of "a kind of contrast." Strong microcontrasts and control of the point-spread function (i.e. even the smallest edges well-defined by tonal separation), without resorting to strong macro-contrast (the overall laydown of tones from black to white). Or in other words, Leica doesn't quit worrying about MTF at 40 lpmm just because that is where the charts end*. They still appreciate raw resolution. But they would prefer to not blitz the highlights or block the shadows with overall contrast (what my friend meant when he claimed Nikkors has "contrast in all the wrong places").

It might also qualify as "3-Dness" in that the microcontrasts emphasize the pits and wrinkles and hairs and flesh with a certain stark chiaroscuro,** while the brighter grays of the nose tip and the background still separate. That chiaroscuro might also qualify as a kind of "glow" - although I tend to reserve that term for the pre-1985 Summiluxes' spherical-aberration halos.

___________

* I believe Peter Karbe said, regarding the SL lenses, that Leica might have to start charting MTF all the way down to 60 lpmm.

** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiaroscuro

 

Very Leicaesque. 

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A Noctilux 50 f0,95 image taken with the M10 + B+W XS-Pro Kaesemann Polarizer screwed to the front which introduces an additional foreign element to the Noctilux optical design. This image is SOOC RAW other than I use the slider to eliminate the filter induced vignette. 

A crazy image ( probably why I like it) but even with the CPL on the front of the lens, I still see the signature look:

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vor 40 Minuten schrieb LBJ2:

An image I took with a Zeiss Batis 135 ( Sonnar) from a Sony sensor with one of thickest sensor stacks on the market, even post processed, is able to present what I think display characteristics associated with the Zeiss 3D Pop. * If you don't see the pop, step back from your monitor 1 to 2 M.

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Zeiss 3D Pop is often confused with the Leica look but is¬†‚Ȇ Leica look. Zeiss lens¬†characteristic wide open is sharp object against an equally blurred background. The 55 Otus exemplifies this. With Leica lenses there is often less Pop but more depth due to gradual roll-off. Last but one here Otus 55, last 50 Summilux-SL, for example,¬†shows this:¬†https://www.smugmug.com/gallery/n-GGCRrg/¬†The woman kneeling in the church also shows the difference clearly between 3D Pop and depth rendering.¬†

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1 minute ago, Chaemono said:

Zeiss 3D Pop is often confused with the Leica look but is¬†‚Ȇ Leica look. Zeiss lens¬†characteristic wide open is sharp object against an equally blurred background. The 55 Otus exemplifies this. With Leica lenses there is often less Pop but more depth due to gradual roll-off. Last but one here Otus 55, last 50 Summilux-SL, for example,¬†shows this:¬†https://www.smugmug.com/gallery/n-GGCRrg/¬†The woman kneeling in the church also shows the difference clearly between 3D Pop and depth rendering.¬†

I agree. Zeiss/Leica = two different looks. Some of the native Sony FE lenses deliver fantastic pop/depth/micro contrast but not the Zeiss or Leica look.

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vor 9 Minuten schrieb adan:

The phrase "the Leica look" and "the Leica glow" long, long predate the existence of scanners and .DNGs. One can find it in magazines such as Popular/Modern Photography from the 1950s. Sometimes it was expanded into comparing "German Flint Glass" with "Japanese Rare-Earth Glass," although frankly I doubt that was the real difference.

Therefore, the idea that "Only untouched DNGs qualify for the Leica look IMO" is nonsense, or at best grossly incomplete and unobservant.

Whatever "the Leica look" may be (or whether it exists at all), it was obviously distinguishable to many using film and paper alone, with no electronic intervention.

__________________________

Here is my sample of one of the possible distinctive looks I associate with Leitz/Leica lenses. It is with the 135mm APO-Telyt on an M9. I show a crop and the whole image because the key lies in the interaction of the micro-contrasts of small details with the macro-contrast of the whole scene.

But the funny thing is, the first time this look jumped up and slapped me in the face was with a similar portrait composition, and a 50mm Elmar f/3.5 on a IIIc (and Tri-X) in 1973 or thereabouts. When I saw this image pop up on the computer screen, it was "deja vue all over again." ;) So it is something consistent in the DNA of Leica lens design.

(However, I would not be surprised if someone can get something similar with this or that Sony/Zeiss/Nikkor/Canon/Voigtlander - it might just take more work. And not every Leica lens behaves exactly the same way).

I would classify this as falling in the area of "a kind of contrast." Strong microcontrasts and control of the point-spread function (i.e. even the smallest edges well-defined by tonal separation), without resorting to strong macro-contrast (the overall laydown of tones from black to white). Or in other words, Leica doesn't quit worrying about MTF at 40 lpmm just because that is where the charts end*. They still appreciate raw resolution. But they would prefer to not blitz the highlights or block the shadows with overall contrast (what my friend meant when he claimed Nikkors has "contrast in all the wrong places").

It might also qualify as "3-Dness" in that the microcontrasts emphasize the pits and wrinkles and hairs and flesh with a certain stark chiaroscuro,** while the brighter grays of the nose tip and the background still separate. That chiaroscuro might also qualify as a kind of "glow" - although I tend to reserve that term for the pre-1985 Summiluxes' spherical-aberration halos.

___________

* I believe Peter Karbe said, regarding the SL lenses, that Leica might have to start charting MTF all the way down to 60 lpmm.

** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiaroscuro

 

Perfect example. Got it. You have a much better trained eye than I do, including looking at prints.

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15 minutes ago, Steven said:

I see the pop. Do you still use your sony ? If not, why? Was it the look? 

I am hard-core Sony and now specifically, Leica M photog. Two very different systems I know. I learned photography on Sony FF mirrorless and have adapted some of the great/lengendary optics to Sony cameras over the years and that is when I started to notice these unique but consistent looks from Zeiss, Contax G, Leica etc. Once I started to see and appreciate the various "looks" I was seeing, I had to try Leica M and eventually buy my first Leica camera the M10. 

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5 minutes ago, LBJ2 said:

I am hard-core Sony and now specifically, Leica M photog. Two very different systems I know. I learned photography on Sony FF mirrorless and have adapted some of the great/lengendary optics to Sony cameras over the years and that is when I started to notice these unique but consistent looks from Zeiss, Contax G, Leica etc. Once I started to see and appreciate the various "looks" I was seeing, I had to try Leica M and eventually buy my first Leica camera the M10. 

Interesting. 

Do you manage to get very similar photos on the Sony (which sony btw) and the M10 when using the same lens on each camera ? 

I know the lens choice is a huge part. I am wondering how the sensor affects photography, in your experience and opinion. 

For me, I managed to get an extremely similar image with my Sony and my Leica is daily, outdoor. The big difference was indoor, at night, were Leica produces nice colours and skin tones while the Sony lost its mind. 

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vor 4 Stunden schrieb otto.f:

I don‚Äôt understand. People trying to debunk the concept of ‚Äėthe Leica look‚Äô, what are they doing here in LUF then? What have they bought Leica stuff for? Just because of ‚ÄėMe Too‚Äô,¬†showing off, snobism? That‚Äôs an expensive trip then.
 

Leica has cameras and lenses. I'm interested in their cameras, you seem to be more interested in their lenses.

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11 minutes ago, Steven said:

Interesting. 

Do you manage to get very similar photos on the Sony (which sony btw) and the M10 when using the same lens on each camera ? 

I know the lens choice is a huge part. I am wondering how the sensor affects photography, in your experience and opinion. 

For me, I managed to get an extremely similar image with my Sony and my Leica is daily, outdoor. The big difference was indoor, at night, were Leica produces nice colours and skin tones while the Sony lost its mind. 

" ...while the Sony lost its mind" LMAO

Lens colour can and does have a big colour impact--oddly often ignored when people debate "colour science" on the various forums. 

Sony continues to receive colour criticism across the internet. But I can tell you, what once was Sony colour is no longer Sony colour. Sony seem to tweak colour processing with each new camera model ( which probably means in-camera WB changes too). I think I read Leica tweaks colors in their new cameras too but I only know the Leica M10. 

Personally I don't have any issues with skin tones and Sony cameras. But I would have to know more details about your workflow and settings to be of much help/advise with your scenario. Feel free to PM if you like. 

FWIW, when creating deliverables, I never mix and match cameras and lenses unless some unforeseen circumstances because it causes me too much editing time and even then it can be very difficult given all the parameters, even with a very controlled workflow. For instance, to this day, I still can't match all blue sky colours as perfectly as I would like to match a series in LR¬†If someone has a recipe for rock solid¬†blue sky matching in LR please send¬†a PM !¬†ūüôŹ

BTW, I think BSI sensor tech can create some significant differences too. Sony has used BSI for some time now and Leica SL photogs are about to see what I mean with the new SL2-S w/ BSI sensor. M10 is not BSI and I think the Sony camera you are using is BSI. 

 

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