My Mid-1990s Article about the Late Great Fashion Photographer Peter Lindbergh for Australia’s ‘not only Black+White’ Magazine.

Peter Lindbergh has always been damn near impossible to get in touch with, not because he wants to be alone but more for the fact that he is so much in demand for editorial and advertising shoots, and just recently for awards presentations and the openings of his own photography shows, that he is booked up months ahead.

It is not the money either. I tried to offer Lindbergh the first ad in a lucrative and creatively open campaign for a Swiss watch manufacturer earlier this year, and he could not fit it in until well after the first picture was due to run. So the problem remains: How do you portray the supreme fashion portraitist without actually getting to him in the flesh?

The clue lies in his own quotes and photographs and films, and comments made by some of the people who know him best. I hope to cut through this thicket to get to some essence of the man himself, and why he does what he does.

First for the visual evidence. In summer of 1995 Lindbergh took on the 1996 Pirelli calendar shoot, in a move away from the kind of high gloss beautifully executed production that Richard Avedon made of it the year before. There could not be a greater contrast between Avedon’s colour sheet film studio style with the lighting placed exactly just so, the wind machine velocity precisely set, and the props and wispy garments chosen and placed on the supermodel with painful accuracy. As an expression of the Avedon beauty aesthetic it was spot on.

This year, it is Lindbergh’s 35mm high speed monochrome on location, as if it were a movie shoot. Lindbergh himself commented about this change in direction. “It was a deliberate choice,” he says, “because, when you work in colour what you are looking for is a sort of first-degree reality, whereas in black-and-white you can elaborate on that reality. You go further. I also wanted to create a relaxed work atmosphere for myself and my crew, with objects scattered about informally – a fan here, some forgotten chairs there. Only with black-and-white can one convey that kind of authenticity.”

The setting in the Mojave Desert contains all the furniture of an apparent feature film shoot, with ultra-high output HMI lights, movie cameras on tracking dollies, director’s chair, and black studio backdrop casually popping up in the photographs. Some of Lindbergh’s Harpers Bazaar fashion shoots had featured a similar movie set look. Was this artistic pretension or wishful thinking on the photographer’s part?

“It’s not accidental,” says Lindbergh. “I wanted to create a working atmosphere. All the objects used in these pictures have been used to make them. They were real tools. Portraying women in a real technical setting has always fascinated me. I like that backstage feeling. It’s not pretentious: it adds a technical aspect which contrasts with the femininity of the photographs.”

It is also evidence of his other career, as a director. Lindbergh made a ten minute promo short at the same time as the stills shoot, hardly necessary as Pirelli calendars are strictly not for sale. Their 40,000 odd print run is always spoken for well before they appear, by the executives, celebrities and journalists on the mailing list. The Pirelli calendar is a media event, in the same way as Lindbergh’s debut documentary on supermodels, Models: The Film was the much anticipated fashion event of 1992.

Models is a walk through several disjointed days in the lives of Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Stephanie Seymour, Linda Evangelista, and Tatiana Patitz as they are photographed by Peter Lindbergh for Harper’s Bazaar. This 45 minute monochrome film is as much a celebration of the supermodel phenomenon as it is documentation of one aspect of these women’s lives.

Stylistically it is incredibly close to Lindbergh’s photography, with a kernel of romantic nostalgia for the great days of classical pre-Technicolor film-making. Campbell plays at being a helium-voiced Josephine Baker, trying to add another hyphen to her job description, Evangelista sits down on a Brooklyn street corner, marcelled black hair à la the height of the Thirties, and haltingly plays the piano accordion like a waif from an Italian Neo-Realist movie.

Then the girls all hang with the home boys at Coney Island after a shoot on the beach, all giggles and camping it up and ogling the sights. The film shows them as real human beings despite the untouchable aura that supermodeldom carries, so that without the makeup and the hair and the clothes these five could just be an especially good-looking gang of sorority sisters on the lam from college.

Lindbergh is in love with their personalities, but as to the photographer himself, Modelsdoes not tell us much more. He is an ever-present absence throughout, except when Evangelista complains at the end that “You’re all in my light,… Pete!”

To shed some light on the photographer, let’s go back to his origins. His biography tells us he was “born on the Polish border of war-torn eastern Germany, in 1944. Peter Lindbergh spent his childhood in the West German town of Duisburg, where his family moved in with his uncle after World War II left them with nothing.”

“As a boy,” it continues, “Lindbergh spent all his free time outdoors. In Duisburg his uncle worked as a sheep farmer with a herd of 3,000, which he kept on a rented parcel of land near the Rhine river.” Ah ha, a clue! Is this where his love of the landscape comes from? It goes on. “On one side of the river was green grass and trees. On the other side was heavy industry, populated with factories, where the boats came up to load.” Some of Lindbergh’s most striking fashion images of the mid-1980s, for Comme de Garçons, were set in decayed factory buildings.

The 1993 Ilford calendar that doubled as a Lindbergh retrospective contains this explanation. “In 1984 I was very much into machine and factory pictures. One reason was the great German tradition of black-and-white expressionism in films directed by Lang, Pabst and others,” he says. “The other was that I was reading everything about Rodchenko, Vertov, Tatlin and Mayakovsky and the outstanding creative energy at the beginning of the Russian Revolution.”

So despite Lindbergh always being of the moment in the models he portrays, he is a traditionalist when it comes to his inspirations. Besides the aforementioned Russian Contructivist photographers, Lindbergh’s photography bears resemblances to that of August Sander, the pre-war cataloguer of all the German character types and, as Karl Lagerfeld points out in his preface to 10 Women, the recently rediscovered fashion portraits of Rudolf Koppitz.

There is an essential Germanness in Lindbergh’s photography, and his character, that as with all Germans who leave their native country has become heightened in opposition. They are a family-oriented people, the Germans, with a hard edge to their nature and no fear of the human body with all its imperfections, naked or otherwise.

Lindbergh left his family behind while young, at 15, when he moved to Luzern in Switzerland to work as a window-dresser. After that he went to Berlin to take on odd jobs, studied drawing, dropped out and departed for Arles, hitchhiked, returned to Düsseldorf, enrolled in art school, and became a conceptual artist.

He became a photographer when he was 27, apprenticed to advertising photographer Hans Lux, then worked in that area until events took a turn. “I got into fashion photography by accident,” Lindbergh elaborates, “I did advertising photography for five years. Then one day a magazine editor [in fact the legendary Willi Fleckhaus of the equally legendary Twen] called me and said that my advertising didn’t look like advertising. He gave me a fashion story. I did it, then Sternsaw it and gave me fourteen pages.”

Then it was on to Marie Claire, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar when British Vogue’s Liz Tilberis took the helm and bought in Lindbergh and Demarchelier for a small fortune, starting a bidding war that benefited even those who stayed with Condé Nast, like Steven Meisel.

In an interview published prior to his signing to Bazaar in 1992 and well before 10 Women was simply a thought and nor more than that, Lindbergh was sceptical about venues other than the magazine page, like gallery shows. “I always said no. It’s a lot of work to do, and to do a book,” he pointed out then. “At the same time it’s a look back, and in the past few years I don’t feel like looking back.”

What retrospective shows like the one now touring Japan, Germany and America well into 1997 give the photographer is the chance to put distance between them and a part of their life, study it with detachment, tidy up the past, put it away and then go on to the next stage. It’s a cathartic act.

Late 1997 will see the release of another and larger book from the same publisher, of still lives, landscapes, portraits and fashion photographs. This second and more important book launch should be the opportunity to shed a brighter light on Lindbergh the man and the artist.

© Copyright Karin Gottschalk 1996, 2017. All rights reserved.

An Instagram post from photographer Amanda de Cadenet

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PBS: American Masters: Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable (video – regional restrictions apply)

https://www.pbs.org/video/garry-winogrand-all-things-are-photographable-tdq83s/

“Discover the life and work of Garry Winogrand, the epic storyteller in pictures who harnessed the serendipity of the streets to capture the American 1960s-70s. His “snapshot aesthetic” is now the universal language of contemporary image-making. …”

Leica Q (Typ 116) digital camera with 24.2 megapixel 35mm sensor and Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.7 Aspheric lens, perfectly suited to the snapshot aesthetic.

Commentary

American documentary photographer Garry Winogrand was called “the central photographer of his generation” by photography curator, historian, and critic John Szarkowski and this documentary movie  provides some insights into how and why he earned that accolade.

Winogrand was a key member of the generation that established the snapshot aesthetic as applied to photography in public as a genre in its own right, alongside Joel Meyerowitz, Lee Friedlander, Tony Ray-Jones and others, all relying on Leica M-Series rangefinder cameras and often the 28mm focal length.

Now that street photography has become even more established as a genre and in some manifestations as a cult, practitioners would do well to study its beginnings at the hands of artists like Winogrand and his colleagues back in the 1960s and 1970s, starting with Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable.

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FujiLove: Why I Want the XF18mm f/2, by Charlene Winfred

https://fujilove.com/why-i-want-the-xf18mm-f-2/

“… I think I want-need another lens. No, none of those fancy new ones Fuji recently released. It’s another small prime, six years old, an original XF lens.

I want the XF 18mm F2.

I’ve been told it’s optically not quite up to par with the newer Fujinon lenses, but that doesn’t bother me, and I love it for all of the reasons I love my other gear:…

fujinon_xf_18mm_f2_r_01_1024px_60pc
Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R prime lens, for me regrettably much too slow to focus manually or via autofocus and its aperture ring too flakey and quirky for fast-paced professional work in stills and video, though some folks seem to like it for the quirkiness that made it so frustrating when I tried it out..

Commentary

leica_elmarit-m_28mm_f2-8_aspheric_1024px_60
Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 Aspheric prime lens for Leica M-System cameras, for me the archetypal 28mm documentary and photojournalism lens whose short barrel and narrow front diameter does not protrude into the camera’s viewfinder window. I want something similar for my X-Pro2, an 18mm f/2.8 or faster. When I had my own Elmarit-M 28mm lens for use on analog Leicas, f/2.8 proved fast enough, though Leica also does f/2.0 and f/1.4 28mm lenses.

I sympathize with Charlene Winfred’s Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R GAS* attack.

A new lens is a new way of seeing the world and if that new lens is a focal length far away from those you are most accustomed to using then it can be exciting, even liberating.

Ms Winfred has relied on some of the longer Fujinon XF focal lengths for some years – 23mm, 27mm, 35mm and 56mm – and felt the allure of 18mm while borrowing one a couple of times.

That I can well understand.

I felt the same after buying into the Leica M-System with a secondhand Leica rangefinder camera and a new Summicron-M 35mm f/2.0 lens, the perfect one camera, one lens combination for environmental portraits, cityscapes and documentary work.

The 35mm focal length – 23mm in Fujifilm APS-C, 17mm in Micro Four Thirds – is a great one prime lens compromise along with the slightly longer 40mm lens – 27mm in APS-C and 20mm in M43.

I felt the 28mm urge – 18mm in APS-C and 14mm in M43 – after getting deeper into documentary photography, needing to better share my close proximity to the people, events and emotions in which I was embedded.

My 28mm Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 lens was my documentary go-to lens for years, and when Fujifilm finally released its first interchangeable lens rangefinder camera, the X-Pro1, I hoped that the 18mm lens released with it might have qualities located somewhere in that particular ball park.

It didn’t.

Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R is quirky, what some commentators refer to as a character or art lens with properties that suit some subjects and  photographic styes but not others.

Especially not the sort of photographs I like to make where every single part of the photograph is important and the whole visual field needs to be in sharp focus, near to far, left to right and right up into all four corners.

If I want radical bokeh or a curved image field instead of flat, then I will consider an art lens or two, some day.

A number of other documentary photographers have expressed the hope that Fujifilm will finally release a Fujicron style Fujinon 18mm f/2.0 R WR to go with its current Fujicron 23mm, 35mm and 50mm lenses and the coming 16mm ‘Fujicron’ prime.

I would prefer to see Fujifilm release an 18mm lens in the style of its excellent 14mm f/2.8, 16mm f/1.4 and 23mm f/1.4 lenses with their manual clutch focus mechanisms, so useful for video and available light photography with the aperture wide open.

Why can’t Fujifilm issue two or more versions of some focal lengths, just like other lens makers do?

They are about to do exactly that with the 16mm focal length, a focal length I do not particularly like, that is so wide it draws undue attention to itself and detracts from what it depicts, and that I find so distorting for human subjects that I must apply volume deformation correction to images I have shot with 16mm or equivalent lenses via DxO ViewPoint.

Fujifilm, keep the current 18mm f/2.0 semi-pancake lens, by all means, for those for whom quirky is an essential creative character trait, but please, please, please Fujifilm, give us a professional-quality 18mm lens too.

What have you got to lose?

Not as much as I have by not being able to have a good enough 18mm prime lens on my X-Pro2.

I hope that Ms Winfred gets hold of her own Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R lens very soon as its immersive, wide but not too wide focal length can be a real liberation after years of narrower ways of seeing.

Fujifilm, are you reading this?

Some views of Chatswood with a borrowed Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R on my X-Pro2

The folks at Fujifilm Australia kindly loaned me a subset of Fujinon XF prime and zoom lenses a little while ago and one of them was the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R.

I took it out for a spin several times but found it frustrating to use in making my usual urban documentary photographs as above, and found I needed to bend my usual way of processing raw files shot with it into more of a quirky, funky direction than I like, substituting clarity all across the frame with something a little more retro, an almost 1980s analog style.

Not my favourite era, frankly.

One of the other loaner lenses was the Fujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR zoom lens and I found myself relying on that mounted on a loaner Fujifilm X-T2 on preference to the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R mounted on my X-Pro2 when needing the 18mm focal length.

I have yet to try Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens but note that veteran photojournalist David Alan Harvey spoke of using that lens at its 18mm focal length setting during Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 launch event in Tokyo.

I have also tried out the Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS zoom lens on a Fujifilm X-T1 at the 18mm focal length setting and found that a very satisfying experience too, even though my needs are for rangefinder and rangefinder-stye cameras with prime lenses that do not protrude into those cameras’ optical viewfinders if they have them.

Theoretically the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom should provide a decent match for the X-Pro2 in its optical viewfinder aka OVF mode given the OVF’s brightline range from 18mm to 56mm, but I suspect the 58mm filter diameter of the lens may protrude into the OVF’s lower right somewhat.

That is a problem that can be palliated to some degree by using the X-Pro2 in M for manual focus mode with the EVF-in-OVF switched on to give you an overall view of the scene, or in S or C autofocus mode with the focusing area set to smallest.

Some urban documentary photographers render the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R more usable by taping its aperture and focusing rings up on selected settings while others use the lens untaped-up and set for zone focusing, like Sydney urban documentarian Steve Dimitriadis in his article below.

I have tried using the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R for the up-close, immersive, available light documentary projects for I which I also loved to use my Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 but found the 18mm even more frustrating in use than for urban documentary at a distance from my subjects.

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Postscript

As a result of this article I have been accused online of demanding that Fujifilm must now make two versions of every lens that they currently make, one with a wide maximum aperture and one with with a less wide maximum aperture, and thus that I am demanding that Fujifilm bankrupts itself.

Reference to some facts is in order.

I am asking Fujifilm that they consider releasing the updated 18mm lens design that has apparently been on their internal lens release roadmap for some time since it was first reported by Fuji Rumors.

Given Fujifilm is about to release a 16mm Fujicron lens to sit alongside its current 16mm f/1.4 lens, surely it is not outside the bounds of imagination that the company may be capable of having two 18mm lenses in its collection, a quirky and characterful 18mm art lens and a professional-quality 18mm lens.

If two different 16mm lenses are unlikely to bankrupt Fujifilm then perhaps two different 18mm lenses may not bankrupt Fujifilm either.

Other lens makers manage to issue two and sometimes even three different versions of the same focal length without bankrupting themselves.

I would hope Fujifilm is capable of doing the same.

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Veydra Mini Prime 19mm cinema lens available in Sony E-Mount, Micro Four Thirds mount and Fujifilm X-Mount. An alternative to the disappointing Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R in case Fujifilm does not bother to issue a professional quality 18mm prime lens? Only if you are using it on an X-T2, X-T3, X-H1 or future X-H2 I suspect as it is long, heavy and the filter diameter of 77mm means it will protrude far too much into the X-Pro2’s optical viewfinder. Or it may work in EVF mode on a future X-Pro3 if Fujifilm improves it beyond the X-Pro2’s EVF. Desperation makes its demands and takes it tolls. I have never used any of Veydra’s Mini Prime lenses but they apparently render not unlike Zeiss prime lenses.

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  • Breakthrough PhotographyB&H – the finest brass traction-framed ND, UV and CPL filters as well as the best step-up rings (sadly only sold direct on the company’s own website at present).
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  • Fujifilm Lens Hood For Fujinon XF 18mm F/2 R LensB&H
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  • Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f/2 LensB&H – Cosina makes excellent lenses under its own brand name, Voigtlaender, as well as on commission from camera and lens companies. Voigtlaender lenses for Leica M-mount tend to be far more affordable than Leica own-brand lenses
  • ZEISS Biogon T* 28mm f/2.8 ZM LensB&H – Zeiss ZM lenses for Leica M-Mount rangefinder cameras and adapters are an excellent, more affordable alternative to Leica’s own lenses and tend to have more neutral colour rendering than Leica’s warmer colours.

Footnotes

  • * Gear acquisition syndrome

Fuji X Forum: Complete Overview over the available and upcoming Fuji X-Mount lenses – Commentary

https://www.fuji-x-forum.com/topic/998-complete-overview-over-the-available-and-upcoming-fuji-x-mount-lenses/?page=1

“Posted September 1, 2015 (edited)
Fujinon (Native Lenses) (29 in total)

Fujinon lens designation translation: R: aperture ring – – LM: linear motor – – OIS: optical image stabilization – – WR: weather resistant – – APD: apodization filter – – – – Super EBC: electron beam coating, also called electron beam physical vapor deposition…”

fujinon_xf_8-16mm_f2.8_02_1024px_80pc
Fujifilm Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR wideangle zoom lens on Fujifilm X-H1 with VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip. I use  the Complete Overview over the available and upcoming Fuji X-Mount lenses at Fuji X Forum for information about Fujifilm’s Fujinon and third party lenses for Fujifilm cameras.

Commentary

Three of the most useful free Web-based online tools that I often use here at ‘Untitled’ are Camera Size’s Compact Camera Meter, Points in Focus’ Depth of Field (DoF), Angle of View, and Equivalent Lens Calculator, and the Complete Overview over the available and upcoming Fuji X-Mount lenses at Fuji X Forum, compiled and updated by quincy.

Quincy’s Fujifilm X-Mount OEM and third-party brand lenses lists are kept up to date and are drawn upon by Patrick at Fuji Rumors for articles, and I go there when I need to research current and coming X-Mount lenses for my articles.

I have been struck by how the number of third-party X-Mount lenses keeps increasing, with most of them being manual focus lenses often designed and manufactured by Chinese companies, but so far my biggest ongoing disappointment with the Fujifilm X-Mount system remains unassuaged by Fujifilm itself as well as by third-parties making native or adapted X-Mount lenses.

Other than Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R semi-pancake prime lens, nobody but nobody is making a prime lens that is equivalent to 28mm in the 35mm sensor format.

This searing blindspot is not just a Fujifilm X-Mount APS-C problem; it applies to the Micro Four Thirds sensor format as well wherein Olympus does not make a 14mm lens at all and Panasonic’s Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 II pancake lens appears to have gone missing in action from many retailers.

The 35mm sensor format’s 28mm focal length and its APS-C and M43 equivalents of 18mm and 14mm respectively has been a staple of the documentary, photojournalism and street photography genres for years now including those when I relied on them on Canon, Leica and Nikon rangefinders and SLRs, but it seems that contemporary lens makers just do not give a damn.

Yes, one may wish to slap a 14mm, 18mm or 28mm inclusive zoom lens on to one’s camera as I do with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 and the excellent Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro or the usually underestimated Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f3.5-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS collapsible zoom lens, but using those focal lengths on a zoom and as a prime lens are two very different things.

Especially if the said prime lens allows easy setting of hyperfocal distance via manual focus or manual clutch focus mechanisms like those in some Fujinon prime lenses and Olympus’ excellent M.Zuiko Pro primes and zooms.

Today I found myself back at Fuji X Forum’s Complete Overview over the available and upcoming Fuji X-Mount lenses to see if any Chinese third party lens makers have added a 28mm equivalent to their current or future ranks lately but sadly it remains no go.

There are some close but no cigar choices for non-Fujifilm cameras, such as Panasonic’s Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 Aspheric prime lens, but for now I will stick with my two M43 zoom lenses rather than fork out for yet another no-cigar substitute.

What I am really after is a decent 18mm prime lens for my Fujifilm X-Pro2 for use as my number one documentary lens.

Given the premium price Fujifilm charges for its elderly Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R, no way am I going to throw good cash down that particular black hole.

Getting back to close but no cigar, independent cinema lens company Veydra lists a 19mm Mini Prime cinema lens amongst its options, and it is available with a Duclos-designed Fujifilm X-Mount that can be DIY-attached onto an M43 version of the lens.

Sigma released a 19mm f/2.8 Art lens in the M43 and Sony E mounts some years ago, but the company has never shown signs of coming out with a Fujifilm X-Mount version.

The Sigma lens is affordable but the Veydra costs over twice the price of Fujifilm’s 18mm.

Veydra’s is an excellent geared cinema lens but its greater size and wide front diameter compared to the Fujifilm and the Sigma makes it a poor choice on my X-Pro2 given I rely on the camera’s excellent optical viewfinder for documentary photography and oftentimes video too.

This ongoing dilemma would not be one if Fujifilm simply went along with their customers’ longstanding request for an updated 18mm lens but I often find myself wondering if the company even cares for its documentary, street photography and photojournalist customers.

Two X-Pro2 cameras equipped with an 18mm lens on one and a 50mm lens on the other is, in my experience, the closest one can get to a perfect two-camera, two-lens documentary photography and photojournalism set-up.

Why provide half of the equation, Fujifilm, when you could so easily give us both even if each lens might be Fujicron-style f/2.0 compacts instead of the maximum versatility of f/1.4 manual clutch focussing alternatives?

The problem of Fujifilm’s ageing, substandard Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R lens

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Leica Q (Typ 116) digital camera with fixed Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.7 Aspheric lens. This or the Fujifilm X100F with wide-angle convertor lens may be another solution to the lack of a decent 18mm lens for Fujifilm cameras.

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  • Leica CL Mirrorless Digital Camera with 18mm Lens (Black)B&H – This APS-C rangefinder-style camera with interchangeable 28mm equivalent lens is another possible solution to the ongoing problem of Fujifilm’s substandard Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R lens.
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The Guardian: Tracking Edith review – gripping film about Soviet spy and photographer

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jul/27/tracking-edith-review-documentary-engima-camera

“The sinew and texture of history are to be found in this grippingly detailed documentary by Peter Stephan Jungk, based on his 2015 book The Darkrooms of Edith Tudor-Hart. She was Jungk’s aunt: an Austrian-born documentary photographer and socialist, domiciled in Britain during and after the second world war, whose work brilliantly recorded the lives of the urban working classes in Vienna, London and the Rhondda valley….”

rolleiflex_4.0_ft_twin_lens_reflex_tlr_telephoto_02_1024px_60%
“Her brilliance as a photographer perhaps involved a spy-like skill in ingratiating herself into a certain situation and unobtrusively recording it. The photographer as double-agent? Perhaps photographers like Tudor-Hart have to cultivate a spy-like tradecraft. Critic Duncan Forbes notes that this was partly about using a Rolleiflex camera that had to be held at waist height, away from the face.” Rolleiflex 4.0 FT twin lens reflex telephoto portrait camera, special edition. Photograph courtesy of Franke & Heidecke.

Commentary

_DSF9014_1024px_80pc
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 camera with tilting electronic viewfinder and Panasonic Lumix G 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Power OIS zoom lens with JJC lens hood. HDR brackets processed with Skylum Aurora HDR.

This documentary on the life and work of Edith Tudor-Hart is currently doing the rounds of cinemas and film festivals, and I hope that it will eventually become available for viewing or purchasing online.

Far too many historically important female photographers and especially female documentary photographers have been forgotten about and left out of the historical record, gallery shows and museums, and time is well overdue for Edith Tudor-Hart and so many others of her ilk to be recognized, racy political background or not.

Comments in the media about Edith Tudor-Hart’s reliance on a Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex aka TLR camera are interesting.

I used several Rolleiflex TLR cameras during the analog era and would have loved to have been able to buy one each of the most recent standard lens, telephoto and wide-angle lens versions of the camera, but Rolleiflexes were always hard to find and costly new or secondhand.

Their waist-level viewfinders and other viewing options made it possible to melt into the crowd when photographing in public or next-to-invisible when making portrait photographs in public or in the studio, aided by their relatively quiet leaf shutters.

There was no mirror slap as their twin lens reflex design meant they had a lower lens for making the photograph and the upper lens for viewing, with the viewing compartment mirror fixed.

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Viewfinder and filter options for Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex aka TLR cameras. It is a pity that few of these sort of viewing options have been produced for digital camera users.

Rolleflex and other brand TLRs such as those made by Mamiya and Yashica continue to be popular amongst certain documentary photographers who are blessed with access to good secondhand camera suppliers, but there are digital alternatives such as Fujifilm’s medium format GFX 50S with optional tilting EVF adapter and more affordably Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-GX8 and DC-GX9 Micro Four Thirds camera, both of which have built-in tilting EVFs.

It is also possible to make waist-level-style photographs with cameras having tilting LCD monitors, though I much prefer fully-articulated LCD monitors for the purpose and some Panasonic cameras have these too, on cameras including the DSLR-style Lumix DMC-GH4, GH5, GH5S and G9.

Given the choice between tilting EVFs, tilting LCDs and fully articulated LCDs, my preference by far is for cameras combining tilting EVFs with fully-articulated LCDs as they present the most versatile viewing options and thus the most ways of seeing and shooting stills and video.

Waist-level and tilting viewfinder cameras and users

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The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8’s large OLED live viewfinder features a unique tilting design to benefit working from low angles and also has an impressive 2.36m-dot resolution, 0.77x magnification, and 10,000:1 contrast ratio.

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  • Fujifilm GFX 50S Medium Format Mirrorless CameraB&H – soon to be joined by the release of its larger GFX 100S and smaller GFX 50R siblings.
  • Fujifilm EVF-TL1 EVF Tilt AdapterB&H – with the addition of this tilt adapter the Fujifilm GFX 50S in effect becomes a waist-level viewfinder camera.
  • Fujifilm VG-GFX1 Vertical Battery GripB&H – adding this battery grip helps turn the Fujifilm GFX 50S into a viable vertical/portrait format camera for handheld or tripod use for portraiture and documentary photography.
  • Fujifilm 64GB Elite II Performance UHS-II SDXC Memory CardB&H – until this fast SDXC card appeared at B&H, I was unaware that Fujifilm also makes memory cards. Worth buying and trying.
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  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
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  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera (Body Only, Black)B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-60mm LensB&H
  • Panasonic DMW-EC5 EyecupB&H – essential for getting the best out of the GX9’s small field sequential viewfinder.
  • Panasonic Hand Grip for Lumix DC-GX9 Mirrorless CameraB&H – essential for safe, secure grip of the GX9 when using medium-sized to large lenses.

zonefocus: How I Set Up My Fujifilm X-T2 for Zone Focusing, by Steve Dimitriadis

http://www.zonefocus.net/blog/2018/7/23/how-i-set-up-my-fujifilm-x-t2-for-zone-focusing

I have always set up my cameras to zone focus by simply going into manual focus mode, setting the focusing distance scale to my desired focusing distance and shooting away.  The problem with this approach is that it is difficult to keep the focusing distance consistent because more often than not I am accidentely bumping the focusing ring.  However using the settings I describe below I have been able to circumvent both of these issues and have a reliable zone focusing setup….”

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Fujifilm X-T2 Graphite with Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 R prime lens

Commentary

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Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 Aspheric prime lens for Leica M-System cameras, the perfect medium-wide focal length for street photography given the effectiveness of zone focusing via setting hyperfocal distance with this lens. This lens is also wonderful for a two-camera, two-lens available light documentary set-up along with one of Leica’s 75mm lenses. For available darkness work, consider the Leica Summicron-M 28mm f/2.0 Aspheric or Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 Aspheric lens.

I made heavy use of zone focusing via setting hyperfocal distance during a years-long urban documentary project during the analog era when relying on a pair of Leica M-Series cameras and mostly 28mm and 35mm lenses.

Of the two my preference was the 28mm lens as its medium wide-angle focal length allowed me to be right in the middle of crowds and close-up to my human subjects while still revealing telling details of the environment in which they and I found ourselves.

Narrower or wider than 28mm or 35mm does not cut it for that approach, as I have proven to myself many times before and since, and ultra-wideangle lenses like the otherwise excellent Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R and Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR with their 21mm and 24mm equivalent focal lengths impose a so-called “lensey” look on the image the perspective distortion of which draws undue attention to the lens and not to the subject matter when using it up-close and in-deep in the street.

Setting one of two hyperfocal distances for either closer or more distant action with the 18mm-equivalent 28mm Leica lens was a brilliant solution to the need for maximum speed and meant I could concentrate on seeing and getting into the zone, achieving maximum flow, achieving extraordinary outcomes that evaded a slower, more deliberate approach.

Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R prime lens, regrettably much too slow to focus manually or via autofocus and its aperture ring too flakey and quirky for fast-paced professional work in stills and video, though some folks seem to like it for the quirkiness that made it intensely frustrating for me.

My term for this high-speed, highly-focused approach to urban documentary photography was “visual athletics” and it produced challenging, heavy-muscled images that upset the denizens of my then-local art and photography community and challenged them in accepting my work as art much less as being in any way creative.

More fool them, now that photography is understood as an art form in its own right and that so-called street photography has become an acceptable creative practice.

It can be a thankless task, though, to be something of a provincial pioneer in any art form.

Ah well, get out the world’s tiniest violin.

Meanwhile Sydney-based documentary and street photographer Steve Dimitriadis of zone focus has my gratitude for sharing his zone focusing methodology using his Fujifilm X-T2 camera and Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R lens.

As I have written here a number of times, I am not a fan of Fujifilm’s ageing 18mm almost-pancake lens and have been waiting far too long for its modernized replacement.

A Fujicron-style Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R WR lens would be an acceptable upgrade especially for urban documentary photography but even better would be a far more versatile professional-style manual clutch focus lens in the manner of the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 RXF 16mm f/1.4 R WR and XF 23mm f/1.4 R for stills and video.

Fujifilm, where is the Fujinon XF 18mm that Patrick of Fuji Rumors has been telling us is coming for ages now?

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Fujifilm X-Pro1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R, Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R and Fujinon XF 60mm f/2.4 Macro prime lens, the first set of Fujinon XF lenses released by Fujifilm in March 2012.

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  • Fujifilm LH-XF23 Lens Hood for XF 23mm f/1.4 RB&H – working close to your subjects in crowds demands protecting your cameras and lenses as much as you can, especially the front of your lens.
  • Vello LHF-XF23 Dedicated Lens HoodB&H – appears to be made in the same way as Panasonic’s pricier lens hood above.
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  • Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • Leica CL Mirrorless Digital Camera with 18mm Lens (Black)B&H – Leica’s APS-C sensor digital rangefinder-style camera with 28mm-equivalent f/2.8 interchangeable lens is one possible solution to Fujifilm’s lack of a decent 28mm-equivalent 18mm lens.
  • Leica Q (Typ 116) Digital CameraB&H – Leica’s 35mm sensor digital rangefinder-style camera with 28mm f/1.7 fixed lens is another possible solution to Fujifilm’s lack of a decent 28mm-equivalent 18mm lens.

Fujifilm Global: Fujifilm announces firmware updates for X-H1, X-T2, X-Pro2, X-E3 and X100F coming soon

http://www.fujifilm.com/news/n180412_03.html

“FUJIFILM Corporation (President: Kenji Sukeno) will release free firmware updates for the FUJIFILM X-H1 (“X-H1”), FUJIFILM X-T2 (“X-T2”), FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (“X-Pro2”), FUJIFILM X-E3 (“X-E3”) and FUJIFILM X100F (“X100F”) X Series digital cameras. Due for release late April and May, the updates reflect the feedback received by FUJIFILM X Series users with regards to improving usability and adding new functions….

… FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (Ver.5.0.0) – due May 2018

1. Enlarged and customizable indicators or information
The upgrade allows users to enlarge indicators and information in the viewfinder and/or LCD monitor. This upgrade will also enable users to customize the location of where the information is shown on the display.

2. Enhanced Phase Detection AF
Latest updates to the AF algorithm provide the following performance enhancements

(1) The low-light limit for phase detection autofocus has been improved by approximately 1.5 stops from 0.5EV to -1.0EV, raising the precision and speed of autofocus in low-light environments.
(2) The range at minimum aperture has been expanded from F8 to F11. For example, even when using the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR with the tele converter XF2X TC WR, phase detection autofocus can now be used.
(3) Major improvements have been made to the AF-C performance while operating the zoom, which provides major benefits when shooting sports and other scenarios in which the subjects moves unpredictably.
(4) Finely-detailed surface textures of wild birds and wild animals can now be captured at high speed and with high precision as a result of improvement in phase detection autofocus.

3. Addition of “Flicker Reduction”
For enhancing the quality of indoor sports photography, the upgrade allows users to reduce flicker in pictures and the display when shooting under fluorescent lighting and other similar light sources.

4. Addition of “Select Folder” and “Create Folder”
Enable to choose the folder in which subsequent pictures will be stored. And also enable to enter a five-character folder name to create a new folder in which to store subsequent pictures….”

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The brilliant Fujifilm X-Pro2 optical viewfinder aka rangefinder camera with Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder, Fujifilm MHG-XPRO2 metal hand grip and Fujinon XF 23mm f.2.0 R WR lens brings the digital form of classic rangefinder photography to the rest of us in a relatively affordable form. It handles like a cross between a Leica M-series camera and a Fuji analog 120 roll-film “Texas Leica” but with all the benefits, bells and whistles of a cutting edge digital hand camera. Excellent for documentary photography and photojournalism.

Commentary

Fujifilm has done it again with its commitment to continually improving the functionality of most of its cameras long after their initial release with firmware updates that squash bugs, introduce major new features and update major and minor core functionality.

As an X-Pro2 owner my interest in the current round of announced and already released firmware updates is primarily to do with that camera but I note the usefulness of Fujifilm’s updates for the X100F, X-E3, X-T2 and X-H1.

I am grateful that with X-Pro2 Firmware Version 5.00 Fujifilm will be adding the ability to enlarge information and indicators in the X-Pro2’s remarkable Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder and its LCD monitor as some, under the current firmware, are a little too small to be as useful and easy to read as they could be.

I am looking forward to the coming enhancements to the X-Pro2’s Phase Detection Autofocus although I tend to prefer using back-button autofocus in Manual mode for precision focussing when shooting documentary stills in available darkness.

The X-Pro2 is nothing if not versatile given its four different viewing methods – LCD, OVF-only, EVF-in-OVF and straight EVF – that effectively make it four cameras in one, and I use it for a range of other subjects and shooting conditions which call for improved AF-S and AF-C focussing functionality.

As the cliché goes, my X-Pro2 may well feel like a while new camera again, yet again.

The addition of a flicker reduction feature will also be very welcome.

I am based in a country with 50 Hz mains power and despite following the common advice to select shutter speeds that are multiples of 50, banding or flicker can be a constant problem especially in places lit by ageing fluorescent lights or mixed lighting that includes flickering light sources.

The ability to choose folders or enter five-character folder names on my SD cards is one the usefulness of which I have not considered but it may be worth trying if I am shooting two or more different subjects or projects in the same day to otherwise needing to keep files clearly separate.

X-Pro2 Firmware version 5.00 does not, however, include improvements that we have been waiting a long time for now.

Foremost of these is pixel-level view of photographs to ensure accurate focus of critical image elements, an essential professional-quality feature even the X-E3 comes with straight out of the box.

Second is exposure zebras for fast and accurate exposure-to-the-right aka ETTR, instead of the blinkies that appeared in an earlier X-Pro2 firmware update.

Blinkies on already shot images are fine when chimping in poor visibility but diabolical when actually shooting.

The X-Pro2’s blinkies often drive me mad especially when used in conjunction with focus peaking for manual focussing which also blinks in unison, a needless distraction that should, at the very least, be able to be switched off in the menu settings.

Thirdly, the EVF badly needs improving if that can be done in firmware alone so that its clarity and colour cast can be made to approach if not match the quality of non-Fujifilm EVF cameras such as those made by Panasonic or by Fujifilm in its also-flagship X-T2 and X-H1 cameras.

If this problem with the X-Pro2’s EVF is a hardware issue, then I hope it will be fixed in the X-Pro3 when it arrives, perhaps, sometime in 2019.

Missing feature number four is the ability to apply picture profile customizations to video in the same way currently exists for JPEGs.

I am grateful to Fujifilm for finally giving us the long-promised 4K video in X-Pro2 firmware version 4.00 but they forgot that decent quality video also requires the ability to customize Noise Reduction, Highlight Tone, Shadow Tone, Color and Sharpness exactly the same as exists in Fujifilm’s other stills and video-capable hybrid cameras.

Lastly, and as firmware wishlist item number five, I would love to see the X-H1’s Eterna film simulation come to the X-Pro2 as a more viable alternative to Fujifilm’s more stills-appropriate film simulations.

Other useful features come to mind but these five are first and foremost for me as a documentary stills and video creator who needs all her cameras to be as capable and as feature-rich as possible.

As a purely self-funded independent visual storyteller, I no longer have the commissions nor the budgets to maintain a number of different camera systems in parallel, nor do I have the physical strength to carry two complete sets of cameras and lenses with one for stills and one for video on any given project.

Accordingly, each camera system that I have must be capable of producing good enough stills and good enough video as the project, the subject and the often unpredictable circumstances of the day demand.

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Fujifilm 64GB Elite II Performance UHS-II SDXC Memory Card

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  • Fujifilm X-Pro2 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
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Masters of Photography Online Courses Launches with Joel Meyerowitz, One of the Greatest Living Fine Art Photographers Working in Colour

I was checking some references for my latest article on colour photography great Joel Meyerowitz when I came across the image featured in this article’s header above. Yes it is true, Joel Meyerowitz is teaching an online course on photography for Masters of Photography and I am sure it will be worth every single cent of its US$170 course fee. 

Walk with Joel in all his 34 lessons as he takes you on this truly inspirational photographic journey and shows you how to stay alive to the meanings and possibilities of the world in front of you. With Joel as your guide, you will learn how to find your creative voice and identity and apply it to your own photographic subjects. Join in and share your course photographs with Joel’s student community and get them critiqued. You will also get your own course certificate from Joel too.

For over 55 years, universally acclaimed, award-winning photographer, Joel Meyerowitz, has been one of the world’s greatest image-makers. Although Meyerowitz is a street photographer in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank, he transformed the medium with his pioneering use of color. As an early advocate, he became instrumental in changing the attitude toward color photography from one of resistance to nearly universal acceptance. Meyerowitz’s work has appeared in over 350 exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world, and he has published more than 25 photography books. He was the only photographer to gain unrestricted access to Ground Zero after 9/11, which produced a body of work that led Meyerowitz to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale for Architecture in 2002.

Meyerowitz is a Guggenheim fellow, a recipient of both the NEA and NEH awards, an inductee to the Leica Hall of Fame, an Honorary Fellow of The Royal Photographic Society and a recipient of their prestigious Centenary Medal. He has taught at Princeton University in New Jersey and at The Cooper Union in New York.

It is also pleasing to see that Albert Watson is teaching one of two coming courses, with the third being taught by Steve McCurry. I hope some great female photographers will present future courses on the principle of “if she can see it, she can be it”.

Links:

The Guardian: Photography legend Joel Meyerowitz: phones killed the sexiness of the street

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/mar/07/photography-legend-joel-meyerowitz-phones-killed-sexiness-street-most-stunning-shots

“… “In the 60s and 70s you could look at my street photographs and trace lines from the eyes of people connecting with other people’s eyes, setting up these force fields.”

Today, what entranced Joel Meyerowitz about the street is all but dead. “Nobody’s looking at each other. Everybody’s glued to their phones.” But street photography still exists? “It’s thriving but not in the way I used to do it. The best street photographers now show humans dwarfed by ad billboards. The street has lost its savour.”…”

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Leica M7, classic 35mm format analog street photography, urban documentary and photojournalism camera

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Leica CL with Leica Summicron-TL 23mm f/2.0 Aspheric prime lens and Handgrip for CL

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  • Fujifilm X100F Digital CameraB&H
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