Personal gear review

Just a little something about what I'd call the "Leica M experience", the less talked-about part of it. It's no secret that the M bodies can be somewhat unwieldy with longer/bigger/heavier lenses; in essence, the more front-heavy or "lens-heavy" the setup gets, the less pleasant it is to handle. Of course, while shooting, you will use both hands (it's manual focus most of the time - unless you use zone focusing, anyway), so it's general handling and carrying that's more of a problem. And it's definitely more of one for me personally because I really don't like half-cases and neck straps, so I basically have to carry the camera in the hand, using thumb rests/hooks or additional grips at best (and that's my decision, yes).

The M bodies are a dream to handle with small, light lenses. Here's what is bothering me: Three of my best lenses not only make the camera front-heavy but also cause the setup to tip forward when set down - and that's bad for the lenses and, possibly, even the lens mount, though I haven't had issues with the latter so far. The M 262, my older, bare-bones body, actually fares a little better: It's able to balance my best 50mm lens (for M mount), the Voigtländer APO Lanthar 50mm f/2, with no real issues. The same lens will tend to tip forward on the M10 (the camera I usually use it on), though it won't do it at all times, which makes things even more hazardous - and leads to me anticipating the worst and have the combo rest on the lens when on a flat surface. Not ideal. On both bodies, the Zeiss Distagon 35mm f/1.4 and the Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f/1.2 will make the whole setup tip forward. Both lenses already show some (minor) surface traces because of this, but I'm not really worried about that aspect - I fear the mechanics may suffer. Again, I can anticipate the issue and prevent accidents, but only be placing them in an unwanted position. What do do?

I do own a grip for the M10 (the original one sold by Leica - it's actually a whole bottom plate). And it actually solves the initial problem, at least for the lenses I mentioned above (bigger ones will still tip forward, but that's to be expected). However, unfortunately, the grip transforms the look and feel of the camera. I mounted it on the camera today for a walk through the capital of Switzerland and was less than impressed: With the grip, the M10 feels pretty big and clunky to me, and what's worse, the grip doesn't even feel deep and secure enough to have the camera dangle from my fingertips, something I do with most gripped cameras without worries. In short, yes, it's usable, and it helps with better balancing the camera, but mostly when it's not in use (see above).

Crucially though, for me, the angle between the fingers on the grip and my index finger becomes bigger and quite unnatural, and the grip feels more like an in-between, not really that helpful at all. The thumb hooks are at least as secure to hold, though admittedly, they don't help as much with balancing the lenses. But for me, it doesn't seem to be worth it to use the grip. I don't think it's badly made, but I'm questioning the concept: It's solid and pretty elegant, but just not big enough to be really useful. And furthermore, the angle thing I mentioned will only get worse the bigger the grip gets ... I now remember that I had a very similar problem with the additional grip for the GX9 - same thing, really, as far as hand positions and issues go.

So, all this means I have to put up with the tipping as well as the strain that can build up with heavier lenses when I carry the combo in the hand for longer periods of time, only using a thumb hook - though I have a couple of posture to help mitigate the latter, at least, but I still don't have a real solution for the balancing thing. I guess the only thing that'll help is even more care ...

Sorry for my ramblings about this ... I just wanted it to get off my chest, and maybe someone comes up with a neat solution; I'm resigned to put up with things as they are now.

M.
As a general comment and as a non professional, I only do small/ light lenses with the rangefinder, to me that's one of the main things that system's all about, making a grip out of the question. Bigger/heavier/ longer lenses whether native or adapted go on the Z6, a case of a big lens on one camera system not being so on another. This means missing out on a load of excellent RF lenses of course but I'm happy to pay that price.
 
As a general comment and as a non professional, I only do small/ light lenses with the rangefinder, to me that's one of the main things that system's all about, making a grip out of the question. Bigger/heavier/ longer lenses whether native or adapted go on the Z6, a case of a big lens on one camera system not being so on another. This means missing out on a load of excellent RF lenses of course but I'm happy to pay that price.
I completely understand - that's what I usually do. But the Distagon and the Nokton are such rewarding lenses ... And of course, for low light shooting, they come into their own even more thoroughly. But to rest the case: It's possible to work with them for me even without the grip, it just necessitates extra care. That's a small price to pay for the opportunities these lenses can create in the right circumstances.

Today, I'll take the Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f/1.5 II on the M 262 - that lens ticks all the boxes for portability :)

M.
 
I really need to sell some stuff that I don’t use. I just need to get past the inertia of actually starting.
I keep plunking away at it. I sold off all of my Sony gear and micro four-thirds gear recently. Hurray for me! The problem is, I keep adding stuff. I really enjoy my Panasonic S5 with Sigma’s DG DN glass on it (Remember Sigma is an OEM for L-mount). And I still have my Fuji gear. And I just bought a Nikon Z7 II on deep discount because I’ve always wanted to try the Z system. Clearly, this is still too much kit. But I enjoy it all.
 
I completely understand - that's what I usually do. But the Distagon and the Nokton are such rewarding lenses ... And of course, for low light shooting, they come into their own even more thoroughly. But to rest the case: It's possible to work with them for me even without the grip, it just necessitates extra care. That's a small price to pay for the opportunities these lenses can create in the right circumstances.

Today, I'll take the Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f/1.5 II on the M 262 - that lens ticks all the boxes for portability :)

M.
I do love my Nokton 50/1.5 Asph LTM. Delicious lens so I get what you're saying and it's not too big at all (especially to me right now as I mostly use my Nikkors! LOL!)
 
Personal Gear Log: 2023 summer vacation edition.

Gear taken:
Fujifilm X-T3, XF 16-80 f/4 (870 pictures, 400 kept), XF 70-300 (81 pictures, 30 kept)
Ricoh GR III (170 pictures, 70 kept)
Fujifilm X-Pro2, XF 23 f/1.4 R (95 pictures, 40 kept), 35 f/1.4 R (0 pictures)
Family members also carried a Google Pixel 6a (140 pictures, 50 kept), an iPhone SE (55 pictures, 25 kept) and an iPhone XR (120 pictures, 55 kept)

For the most part, I used the X-T3 and 16-80 lens. Mostly for family pictures and whatever else crossed our paths randomly. This combination is relatively lightweight, reasonably robust and weather-resistant, and great image quality. No images were unusable due to overexposure, too much noise, or too little sharpness, thus the camera was perfectly sufficient for the job. AF was missed on a few occasions, due to a misplaced focusing rectangle. It's not really the camera's fault, but a more effective subject/face detection system would have prevented this. One time, the X-T3 shut down after a bit too much rain, but recovered when it dried out. This is the first time this has happened, despite many a downpour in the past. It was a bit annoying that the camera completely reset during that time.

The 16-80 is a surprisingly robust lens. It has a useful zoom range, is sharp where it counts, and I don't find the wide-angle distortion and soft corners particularly noticeable. But most importantly, it has a relatively calm bokeh, which I personally prefer over even the 16-55's, as it is a but less busy, albeit obviously smaller. The very strong OIS is also particularly useful. Half-second handheld exposures are perfectly possible (take a good stance, tuck in your arms, breathe slowly, and take a few shots for safety). But I'm not much of a long-exposure kind of guy, so that's not something I do often. I also regularly stitch panos at 16mm, which works well.

The 70-300 only came out on two occasions. It is extremely nice to have for both, closeups and faraway landscapes. But I generally find it too much hassle to carry it with me while walking the cities or hills with the family. So its usefulness was mostly limited to my own photo walks in the evening, and a boat tour where I knew it would come in handy. Its most important feature is therefore that it's relatively small and light, and I value it highly for that.

The X-Pro2/23 is a wonderful combination, but for general family photography, I prefer the flexibility of the X-T3/16-80. The latter is good enough even for low light pictures in the theater or the pub, and I know that the X-T3's AF is more reliable, mostly on account of parallax errors in the X-Pro2's OVF. I know how to deal with this, but it requires a little more effort, which this time I didn't feel worth it most of the time. It was still good to have the X-Pro2 as a backup, however. But next time I might consider just bringing the backup body. That said, the one evening photo walk through Edinburgh with the X-Pro2/23 was a wonderful, calm experience, and might have been worth it in itself.

Traditionally, I'd use the Ricoh GR III for general snapshots, and only grab the X-T3 for "real" pictures. This time, however, that sort of didn't happen. The X-T3 hung in easy reach on a strap at all times, and was even easier to grab than fishing the GR out of my pocket. The GR was still useful for hotel breakfasts or restaurant dinners, where I simply didn't bring the "big" camera. And it's just so tiny that it's never a burden.

The cell phone pictures are always a bit of a quandary for me. I generally don't like most of them, as the other family members put less thought into their pictures than I. On the other hand, they do capture some good moments where I simply wasn't present, so I'll include them in our vacation albums. With my wife's Google Pixel 6a, the images are very easy to work with, as the phone can be set up to always capture DNGs alongside the JPEGs. They have a bit less highlight latitude, and a baked-in local white balance that can be a bit annoying, but generally they're non too different from my big raw files. For the iPhones, however, all I get are JPEGs (or HEIFs if I really press them and walk them through the export process). Depending on the state of their iCloud/phone setup, they may even be highly compressed. The iPhone XR looks relatively decent, if a bit oversharpened and with the customary heavy-handed tone mapping of modern smart phone imagery. But the SE is an entirely different matter. Personally, I find the images unacceptable. Oversharpened to the point of caricature, and that awful yellow skin tone of earlier iPhones that looks more like The Simpsons than human. And with either iPhone, as soon as the light fades, or if the user zooms their picture, skins become waxy and artificial. But the worst thing is that the iPhones' behavior is extremely inconsistent. Some pictures look perfectly decent, and then the next picture is a wax drawing, for seemingly no reason. Obviously I wouldn't say that to my co-travelers' faces. They enjoy their pictures. Good for them. I have some presets for mitigating the worst of this, but iPhone pictures remain a problem for me.

On the whole, I was happy with my gear choices. Maybe next time, I'll skip one or both of the prime lenses. And actually, perhaps the time has come to let go of the X-Pro2. It's a lovely camera, but I really use it more as a novelty toy than a photographic tool. Where it counts, I'll grab the X-T3. It might be reasonable to replace it with a smaller X-T30 or something like that.
 
I keep plunking away at it. I sold off all of my Sony gear and micro four-thirds gear recently. Hurray for me! The problem is, I keep adding stuff. I really enjoy my Panasonic S5 with Sigma’s DG DN glass on it (Remember Sigma is an OEM for L-mount). And I still have my Fuji gear. And I just bought a Nikon Z7 II on deep discount because I’ve always wanted to try the Z system. Clearly, this is still too much kit. But I enjoy it all.
I actually did sell both my Fuji bodies (XS10 and XT30), an A6000, and some lenses. I used the money for a newer Fuji body, so that went well.
 
A few years ago I got into photography after big hiatus and I got a Panasonic GX9 with a few lenses, then I caught the Fuji bug.
I got myself an XT-3 with the 35mm f1.4, 18mm f2m, 18-55 f2.8-f4, 50mm f2, 75-300, and a Viltrox 85mm f1.8.
Now in the last year I have used this camera maybe once..

Why? I couldn't let go of my favorite lens, my mitakon 25mm f0.95. I paired it with a Pen-F and it's been just perfect. The crappy AF of the pen-f is a non issue, the EVF is good enough and I am loving the output I get.
If I need AF, I grab my E-PL9 which is a tiny but very capable camera. I recreated my kit of tiny but powerful lenses (25mm f0.95, 10mm f2, P20mm f1.7, P12-32, O45-105R, Sigma 56mm f1.4) and I've not really needed more..

For some reason it doesn't spark joy anymore using the Fuji, I can't quite put my finger on why. Perhaps its the size or weight of the kit.

Every time I leave the house now, I have either a Pen-F with me or my lx 100 or a E-PL9 with some small prime. Or all of those, as they are tiny and don't weight too much.
And the tininess and weight is the biggest factor for me taking a camera.

Should I just sell the Fuji gear? I feel it's just depreciating in value and I've no use for it. I've even shot more with my tiny DxO One than the Fuji this year 😅

Here are my stats of pics taken:

stats.jpg


Any recommendations? What would you do?
 
A few years ago I got into photography after big hiatus and I got a Panasonic GX9 with a few lenses, then I caught the Fuji bug.
I got myself an XT-3 with the 35mm f1.4, 18mm f2m, 18-55 f2.8-f4, 50mm f2, 75-300, and a Viltrox 85mm f1.8.
Now in the last year I have used this camera maybe once..

Why? I couldn't let go of my favorite lens, my mitakon 25mm f0.95. I paired it with a Pen-F and it's been just perfect. The crappy AF of the pen-f is a non issue, the EVF is good enough and I am loving the output I get.
If I need AF, I grab my E-PL9 which is a tiny but very capable camera. I recreated my kit of tiny but powerful lenses (25mm f0.95, 10mm f2, P20mm f1.7, P12-32, O45-105R, Sigma 56mm f1.4) and I've not really needed more..

For some reason it doesn't spark joy anymore using the Fuji, I can't quite put my finger on why. Perhaps its the size or weight of the kit.

Every time I leave the house now, I have either a Pen-F with me or my lx 100 or a E-PL9 with some small prime. Or all of those, as they are tiny and don't weight too much.
And the tininess and weight is the biggest factor for me taking a camera.

Should I just sell the Fuji gear? I feel it's just depreciating in value and I've no use for it. I've even shot more with my tiny DxO One than the Fuji this year 😅

Here are my stats of pics taken:

View attachment 410175

Any recommendations? What would you do?
Tilli, you must do what your heart dictates! If you have no love for your Fuji gear, get rid of it. As you are enjoying your Olympus gear, that definitely is the way forward. Sentimentality has no place for me.
 
A few years ago I got into photography after big hiatus and I got a Panasonic GX9 with a few lenses, then I caught the Fuji bug.
I got myself an XT-3 with the 35mm f1.4, 18mm f2m, 18-55 f2.8-f4, 50mm f2, 75-300, and a Viltrox 85mm f1.8.
Now in the last year I have used this camera maybe once..

Why? I couldn't let go of my favorite lens, my mitakon 25mm f0.95. I paired it with a Pen-F and it's been just perfect. The crappy AF of the pen-f is a non issue, the EVF is good enough and I am loving the output I get.
If I need AF, I grab my E-PL9 which is a tiny but very capable camera. I recreated my kit of tiny but powerful lenses (25mm f0.95, 10mm f2, P20mm f1.7, P12-32, O45-105R, Sigma 56mm f1.4) and I've not really needed more..

For some reason it doesn't spark joy anymore using the Fuji, I can't quite put my finger on why. Perhaps its the size or weight of the kit.

Every time I leave the house now, I have either a Pen-F with me or my lx 100 or a E-PL9 with some small prime. Or all of those, as they are tiny and don't weight too much.
And the tininess and weight is the biggest factor for me taking a camera.

Should I just sell the Fuji gear? I feel it's just depreciating in value and I've no use for it. I've even shot more with my tiny DxO One than the Fuji this year 😅

Here are my stats of pics taken:

View attachment 410175

Any recommendations? What would you do?

I'll sort of echo what Bobby and Charles have already said. Use the gear which, when you pick it up, and hold it in your hands - or when you raise it to your eye and look through the viewfinder... it really makes you feel like you want to take a picture. Or three.

From what you said, and from the cool list of stats you posted, your favorite camera this year has been your Pen F. I can not only understand that, but also relate to it: for me, the Pen F has to be one of the coolest cameras ever that I ever took pictures with. I'll go one step further and say that, though it may not possess overwhelming technological 'specs', the PenF's EVF (aka viewfinder) is really one of the more satisfying ones I've ever used. Period. And while the AF may not be lightning quick compared to some newer cameras, it's still IMHO more than fast enough for a huge amount of things.

Also, were I in your shoes, I would seriously consider selling the Fuji gear if you're not using it now - and (more importantly) if you're not enjoying using it all that much. The good thing about used Fujis these days is, for various irrational reasons, many Fujifilm used cameras have actually seriously increased in value over the last several years. This is a phenomenon which has been much discussed but the important thing is, your camera (and your Fuji lenses) have probably still retained quite a bit of value - so odds are you wouldn't be 'taking a loss' (and, hopefully, probably the contrary).

Small digital Pens are truly wondrous devices - and fun to shoot with. I say: follow your instincts. They sound right to me.
 
Thanks for confirming my suspicions. Will be selling off my Fuji stuff.

I will probably be keeping my X-Pro 1 and 2 lenses(35mm & 18mm) cause they look good on a shelve, haha.

It's too bad there is not real upgrade path for me, currently.
A sensible decision, I think. MPB (UK & Europe, and Park Cameras, UK.) offer fair prices for good used equipment, and will pay the postage. I have no experience of dealers in Ireland!
 
Tilli, before you dump all your Fuji glass, you should try some of those smaller primes on an X-E4 body - or even an X-E3 body. You might find the same enjoyment you get out of the Pen F.
That's not a terrible idea. The X-E3 might be a good idea.
I'm just not sure I want to invest more money into the system. Especially since I find most Fuji bodies suuuper overpriced.
My main issue really, is it feel odd to dump a system and not have an alternative or an upgrade.
 
Hi Tili ;)

I think You forget in Your thoughts about one super important thing, which is color science.
Fuji colors are in my opinion no#1 in industry when it comes to portrait photography (skin tones are just perfect in any film sim)
With Fuji RAW files post process/editing is very easy and intuitive.
I did tried to edit in Capture One some .orf files with portraits from dpreview gallery, and even when using all my knowledge, experience, all my tricks I just could not get right colors of human skin, where with Fuji - I basically don't need to do anything 😅
You saw my portrait session at the beach, taken with TTartisan 35/1.4 + X-T30II combo... this setup actually is very inexpensive, weights less than Oly Pen-F + Mitakon 25/0.95 yet delivers shallower DOF and almost same FL

But, when You dont shoot portraits - forget what I just wrote 😁
In any other photo genre, color variations are not so crucial and don't need to be so precise, as in portraits IMHO.
 
Hi Tili ;)

I think You forget in Your thoughts about one super important thing, which is color science.
Fuji colors are in my opinion no#1 in industry when it comes to portrait photography (skin tones are just perfect in any film sim)
With Fuji RAW files post process/editing is very easy and intuitive.
I did tried to edit in Capture One some .orf files with portraits from dpreview gallery, and even when using all my knowledge, experience, all my tricks I just could not get right colors of human skin, where with Fuji - I basically don't need to do anything 😅
You saw my portrait session at the beach, taken with TTartisan 35/1.4 + X-T30II combo... this setup actually is very inexpensive, weights less than Oly Pen-F + Mitakon 25/0.95 yet delivers shallower DOF and almost same FL

But, when You dont shoot portraits - forget what I just wrote 😁
In any other photo genre, color variations are not so crucial and don't need to be so precise, as in portraits IMHO.
Personal choices are personal choices. This is a brand and gear agnostic forum, you don't need to (and shouldn't) advocate for a brand here. So, please, definitely don't speak up against any gear you don't shoot. You can sing the praises of your gear as long as you want, but not at the expense of other people's gear. And you can even slam your own gear as long as you want - after all, you have to live with your own choices. To the point: To suggest that Tili's choices weren't well-considered is not acceptable here.

That said, I don't say you're wrong - your opinion and experience are a good and as valued as any around here. This is just a reminder of a very important aspect of this community. And besides: If someone chooses to move on from a brand you love, this doesn't harm or concern you and your choices in any way, so it's no use taking issue.

M.
 
Hi Tili ;)

I think You forget in Your thoughts about one super important thing, which is color science.
Fuji colors are in my opinion no#1 in industry when it comes to portrait photography (skin tones are just perfect in any film sim)
With Fuji RAW files post process/editing is very easy and intuitive.
I did tried to edit in Capture One some .orf files with portraits from dpreview gallery, and even when using all my knowledge, experience, all my tricks I just could not get right colors of human skin, where with Fuji - I basically don't need to do anything 😅
You saw my portrait session at the beach, taken with TTartisan 35/1.4 + X-T30II combo... this setup actually is very inexpensive, weights less than Oly Pen-F + Mitakon 25/0.95 yet delivers shallower DOF and almost same FL

But, when You dont shoot portraits - forget what I just wrote 😁
In any other photo genre, color variations are not so crucial and don't need to be so precise, as in portraits IMHO.
I don't really buy the Fuji color science stuff.
I have shot Fuji (x-10 and x20) for years and then also my XT-3 for a few years too, but I can get super similar results in Lightroom now.
Don't super care about jpeg colors tbh. I always want to change a few things so raw is key for me. I'd rather just have consistent colors across my tiny cameras.

That X-T30II + TTA combo is nice, sure, but it's more of a sidegrade isn't it?
And while we are here, my f0.95 lens delivers shallower DOF (f1.9 vs f2.1) and is a tiny bit wider, which can help for cropping.

Actually, I mostly shoot portraits (candid, natural light), but I don't generally share these here.
I am just an amateur, you tell me if these skin tones look good or not.

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If I were going to advocate for anything color-science-wise, it'd be the Color Fidelity (formerly Huelight I believe) profiles for PP software like Lightroom and DXO (and others). Pentax DNGs never load into these programs with good defaults, I found, but the Color Fidelity ones instantly create a great, fairly neutral starting point that needs very little tweaking. For $25 I found it well worth it.
 
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