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The main problem of the "Leica look"


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 I can bet that with a Nikon D700 (to mention one) and a specific Nikon ED lens, plus Capture One, I can create whatever look you want. I understand the character, rendering, 3d-pop... But the Leica look, I think it doesn't exist. Like the Cron King of Bokeh... They are urban legends, keen to tell in our stories, but they are not based on anything.
and by the way, whatever the Leica-look looks like, I like it very much. 🙌

Good vibes

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vor 1 Minute schrieb Dennis:

 I can bet that with a Nikon D700 (to mention one) and a specific Nikon ED lens, plus Capture One, I can create whatever look you want. I understand the character, rendering, 3d-pop... But the Leica look, I think it doesn't exist. Like the Cron King of Bokeh... They are urban legends, keen to tell in our stories, but they are not based on anything.
and by the way, whatever the Leica-look looks like, I like it very much. 🙌

Good vibes

Many times you probably can emulate it. Last sentence of the write-up.

https://www.artphotoacademy.com/the-leica-look/

With an existing computer technology it is entirely possible to emulate the Leica look in post-production, yet, getting it in-camera takes no time, while the alternative requires serious Photoshop skills, sizable amounts of time and, in the first place, knowing what you are trying to emulate.

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8 minutes ago, Chaemono said:

Many times you probably can emulate it. Last sentence of the write-up.

https://www.artphotoacademy.com/the-leica-look/

With an existing computer technology it is entirely possible to emulate the Leica look in post-production, yet, getting it in-camera takes no time, while the alternative requires serious Photoshop skills, sizable amounts of time and, in the first place, knowing what you are trying to emulate.

Well said sir. 

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15 minutes ago, Dennis said:

 I can bet that with a Nikon D700 (to mention one) and a specific Nikon ED lens, plus Capture One, I can create whatever look you want. I understand the character, rendering, 3d-pop... But the Leica look, I think it doesn't exist. Like the Cron King of Bokeh... They are urban legends, keen to tell in our stories, but they are not based on anything.
and by the way, whatever the Leica-look looks like, I like it very much. 🙌

Good vibes

You have a lot of company with similar sentiments! 

At the end of the day a memorable image is made up of many attributes. A certain optical signature is only part of the final result. I've seen beautiful images that are to my eye, flat as a pancake for instance, and void of any signature look. I like the saying if you want an interesting image take a picture of something interesting! 

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30 minutes ago, Steven said:

Looking through the many posted LUF camera-specific pics, using a variety of quality Leica camera/lenses, I guess that some folks here must be using fake or defective gear.  Either that, or the photographer (and editor) really do matter.  
 

And even when the user is talented and fully competent, the ‘look’ of their work, even when using identical gear (including Leica) varies dramatically. That’s been shown time and again by the styles of many different photographers and printers, past and present. Once rendered in fine print, the viewer generally has no clue about gear used, nor do they care.  Screen shots don’t tell me much, and my guess is that you (and others) would fail miserably in a blind test of quality prints produced by a variety of gear. 
 

Increasingly more companies are cranking out quality lenses (and cameras) these days, due in large part to technological and production advancements.  Great IQ comes in many forms and packages.  And that’s besides the tremendous variability in modern software enhancements. 
 

The Leica difference for me is not a unique look; it relates more to its excellence in viewing and focusing systems (best RF, best EVF, and the S optical finder), simple interface and controls, fantastic design/build quality and ergonomics,  and a broad line of consistently high quality lenses (with a range of rendering characteristics) over many decades.  Other companies have lens gems within their lines, but Leica doesn’t have many duds or poorer stepchildren. A great photographer, however, doesn’t need the best gear to create gorgeous work (see E. Weston prints). Some do a lot with a little; others create mediocre work with the most expensive equipment.  That’s been true for film and digital, Leica or other.

Jeff

 

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On 12/26/2020 at 9:17 PM, TomB_tx said:

...In going through them projected large he flagged several to remove, saying "That wasn't with a Leica lens." He was right in every case. I couldn't tell the difference, but that convinced me the difference was there...

Funnily enough I had rather a similar experience but which was approached from the 'other end'.

For my very first submission in the first week, first term of my college course (1984) we were asked to submit four printed images on a particular theme. During the communal crit when mine were being assessed our lecturer announced 'Philip has failed the project'. When I asked why he said that the criteria in part insisted that all images had to be shot on 35mm film and, clearly, "That one wasn't shot on 35mm film". I insisted it was and declared I could show him the negative to prove it. He then backtracked slightly and said "That wasn't taken on the same camera as the other three." I agreed and that told him "Those three were shot with a Nikon F; that one with a Leica M2."

He smiled and said; "Ah! You have a Leica!!!..."

We got on very well after that first session.

Philip.

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5 minutes ago, pippy said:

Funnily enough I had rather a similar experience but which was approached from the 'other end'.

For my very first submission in the first week, first term of my college course (1984) we were asked to submit four printed images on a particular theme. During the communal crit when mine were being assessed our lecturer announced 'Philip has failed the project'. When I asked why he said that the criteria in part insisted that all images had to be shot on 35mm film and, clearly, "That one wasn't shot on 35mm film". I insisted it was and declared I could show him the negative to prove it. He then backtracked slightly and said "That wasn't taken on the same camera as the other three." I agreed and that told him "Those three were shot with a Nikon F; that one with a Leica M2."

He smiled and said; "Ah! You have a Leica!!!..."

We got on very well after that first session.

Philip.

Excellent story ! 

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56 minutes ago, Jeff S said:

Once rendered in fine print, the viewer generally has no clue about gear used, nor do they care.  Screen shots don’t tell me much, and my guess is that you (and others) would fail miserably in a blind test of quality prints produced by a variety of gear. 

Unfortunately (for you), 90% of the content I consume, and that's true for 90% of the world, is now online, and not printed. I'll accept the challenge for a digital blind test, though, if you're up for it. 

 

58 minutes ago, Jeff S said:

A great photographer, however, doesn’t need the best gear to create gorgeous work

True, no one is questioning that. "The best camera is the one you have with you" bla bla bla. That doesn't mean that a great photographer cannot lust, or enjoy, the best gear. As Steve McCurry said in the video I shared, "some feel the owe it to their photography to use the best gear". Doesn't mean the best gear is the same for everyone. And doesn't mean that they'd fail to excel without the best gear. 

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2 hours ago, Chaemono said:

With an existing computer technology it is entirely possible to emulate the Leica look in post-production, yet, getting it in-camera takes no time, while the alternative requires serious Photoshop skills, sizable amounts of time and, in the first place, knowing what you are trying to emulate.

I entirely agree with this. And it fantastic to have already the Leica look on camera instead of spending time on PP. I want to have a great DNG on camera and apply a very slight PP. No vice versa, of course.
And I guess we all here agree that the M system is an incredible tool. And as I told here previously, I enjoy shooting more with Leica than with Nikon, for example, for many reasons: the rangefinder first, IQ, different and more unique workflow, weight, size, and much more. But there are many factors together that make the M a terrific system for me. No doubt about it. 
But my point is that I don't buy Leica stuff for the look, but for all the rest. Does it make sense? 

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12 minutes ago, Dennis said:

I entirely agree with this. And it fantastic to have already the Leica look on camera instead of spending time on PP. I want to have a great DNG on camera and apply a very slight PP. No vice versa, of course.
And I guess we all here agree that the M system is an incredible tool. And as I told here previously, I enjoy shooting more with Leica than with Nikon, for example, for many reasons: the rangefinder first, IQ, different and more unique workflow, weight, size, and much more. But there are many factors together that make the M a terrific system for me. No doubt about it. 
But my point is that I don't buy Leica stuff for the look, but for all the rest. Does it make sense? 

Yes it makes sense. Many will agree. I was lead to Leica by the look and every once in a while I am rewarded when I manage to capture the look, or as the OP stated sometimes we take the look for granted or blinded by familiarity...or until someone from my non photographer circle  singles out unknown to them, Leica images and recognizes something special.

I've done the blind tests with family and friends with the Zeiss POP specifically (not Leica yet). Some can see it, some just can't-ever. One family member hits it 100% in every blind test I've presented (that's unusual). But II have to be careful--too much is too much and well, I don't want to lose any family or friends 🙃

Edited by LBJ2
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3 hours ago, Steven said:

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

Good that you see the Pop even with heavy file downsizing to meet forum posting criteria and through whatever monitor/lighting you are viewing. I can tell you from experience many will not see the pop in this image. 

This photo was taken with the A7rIII. I now use the A7rIV. 

Edited by LBJ2
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45 minutes ago, Steven said:

Unfortunately (for you), 90% of the content I consume, and that's true for 90% of the world, is now online, and not printed. I'll accept the challenge for a digital blind test, though, if you're up for it. 

 

True, no one is questioning that. "The best camera is the one you have with you" bla bla bla. That doesn't mean that a great photographer cannot lust, or enjoy, the best gear. As Steve McCurry said in the video I shared, "some feel the owe it to their photography to use the best gear". Doesn't mean the best gear is the same for everyone. And doesn't mean that they'd fail to excel without the best gear. 

Other experienced photographers have been fooled...

https://luminous-landscape.com/kidding/
 

Of course people like to enjoy the best gear.  The thread is about a unique Leica look. My point is that there is no singular look, and that one can produce same or similar (or ‘better’ or ‘worse’) with less expensive (or more expensive) gear.

Jeff

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15 minutes ago, Dennis said:

...my point is that I don't buy Leica stuff for the look, but for all the rest. Does it make sense?...

If, Dennis, by "all the rest" you mean the whole M shooting experience and all that encompasses then I couldn't agree more. I did, too. I didn't choose Leica because I knew their lenses rendered differently to any other manufacturer. I chose Leica because of how one approaches shooting with a Leica. The even nicer thing is that all the 'other' facets of shooting with a leica - lens rendering perhaps? - come along included as part of the whole package.

Philip.

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So, what about this. We use the same film for two different cameras. One for a Leica M with a Leica lenses, and the other for a no-rangefinder cameras with whatever lens.

Then we print. There is where you can maybe found the Leica look. Not in digital.

 

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Nearly 40 years ago I completed and undergraduate project comparing Leica and Minolta lens systems via MTF and prints. This answered the question effectively enough in that there was no discernible technical (MTF) difference between the two and nobody could identify from the prints which system had been used for which. Unless something has significant changed since then (it hasn't) then this remains the case to this day. Individual lenses show their own characteristics and some have a distinct 'signature' (such as the 75/780mm Summiluxes) but so do lenses from other makers. To have a distinctive 'look' all the lenses would have to have matched design requirements and whilst this is possible (series of cine lenses are matched in this way) it is not the case with Leica who have been making '35mm' format lenses to differing design requirements for nearly 100 years. Leica make great lenses but they do not have a distinctive and common look. Anyone wo thinks otherwise is kidding themselves.

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40 minutes ago, Dennis said:

So, what about this. We use the same film for two different cameras. One for a Leica M with a Leica lenses, and the other for a no-rangefinder cameras with whatever lens.

Then we print. There is where you can maybe found the Leica look. Not in digital.

 

I'll take you up on this offer! Jumping in my car now and if I can get through Aduana quickly this time of year, I should be there in about 2 hours. So please crack open the Tequila ( FYI I only drink 100% agave). Oh and I'll need to borrow your film camera...and some film...and maybe you printer and some nice photo paper too 😎🤪

“Pa arriba', pa' bajo, pa' al centro, pa' dentro!”

Edited by LBJ2
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1 minute ago, LBJ2 said:

So please crack open the Tequila ( FYI I only drink 100% agave). Oh and I'll need to borrow your film camera...and some film...and maybe you printer and some nice photo paper too 😎🤪

I can help you with the Tequila for sure, or Mezcal. Film cameras 🤔 I have a Nikon FM w/ 50/1.4 AIS and a nice wood pinhole. No printer and not films, except for these .... They have at least 14 years. About 55 rolls

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