The Leica look - what makes it, what is it?

Armanius

Bring Jack back!
Jan 11, 2011
123
Houston, Texas
Jack
IMO, there's no "Leica" look. When it comes to digital, all things being equal, if the photographer nails the exposure and focus, he or she can post process the photo to look like just about anything. The great thing about the M9 is its ability to capture so much information. So the RAW files have tons of latitude to play with during PP.
 
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Unregistered

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i'm not sure

I don't know if the leica look applies to digital.
 

shinglj

Rookie
May 31, 2011
13
Terrigal,NSW , Australia
The Leica look

I have owned Leica s since 1967 however unlike those who inhabit the Leica forums I ma not "one eyed" about leicas and I have had plenty of other cameras upto and including now . However I am certain there is a Leica look -- there is a certain quality to Leica lenses which is very distinctive and a certain style which a Leica camera imposes on you ( "considered" photography ?) and the end result is a definite "look" . I have tens of thousands of images and yet I can look at images and pick those taken on a Leica correctly at least 85% of the time . This even applies to digital images taken on the Digilux 1 -- they have a unique quality .
In recent years I have been an enthusiast of the Canon G series cameras and sold my Leica M6 and lenses a few years ago and was in denial that I missed the Leica look . Back in January I succumbed and bought an X1 and although it has been a trial ( see http://therollingroad.blogspot.com/2011/04/leica-x1.htm) l am now more than ever convinced that there is a Leica "look ".
shinglj
The Rolling Road
 
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BBW

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 7, 2010
123
betwixt and between
BB
shinglj, first of all welcome! I agree that the X1 can give the photographer that "Leica look" and that the X1 is a beautiful camera - as is that Raleigh!! What a find!

When you have a chance please stop by our Welcomes and Introductions forum, shinglj. And thanks for jumping right in here!

(For some reason your first link isn't working...perhaps part of the code is missing?)
 

Andrewteee

All-Pro
Jul 8, 2010
123
This is an interesting topic. I don't have enough experience with Leica to know an answer. And what is a Leica today anyway when some models are rebranded Panasonics. But, in my experience with Leica lenses there is a certain clarity to the images. Each lens is different, but in general I have found them to be contrasty and very sharp. So I wonder if the Leica "look", should there be one, is attributable primarily to the lenses.

But I thin the OP is talking more about picture style. A lot of photojournalists and documentary photographers have historically used Leica cameras because they are low profile. Therefore it is often associated with those genres. It is indeed a great camera (or any rangefinder) to capture the moment with. In that regard it does not matter if it is film or digital; it's about the picture itself.
 

pictor

All-Pro
Jul 14, 2010
124
But, in my experience with Leica lenses there is a certain clarity to the images. Each lens is different, but in general I have found them to be contrasty and very sharp. So I wonder if the Leica "look", should there be one, is attributable primarily to the lenses.
This describes the Leica Summicron 50mm, which I like to mount on my E-PL1, very well. It's sharp and contrasty and I think that I can tell the difference between the Leica and other lenses by looking at the pictures I made with this combination. However, I cannot exclude self-delusion completely.
 

deirdre

Top Veteran
Sep 26, 2010
103
Each lens is different, but in general I have found them to be contrasty and very sharp. So I wonder if the Leica "look", should there be one, is attributable primarily to the lenses.
I really like the sharp contrasty look I got from the modern camera/lens (this one has no post except for cropping)



But I thin the OP is talking more about picture style. A lot of photojournalists and documentary photographers have historically used Leica cameras because they are low profile. Therefore it is often associated with those genres. It is indeed a great camera (or any rangefinder) to capture the moment with. In that regard it does not matter if it is film or digital; it's about the picture itself.
They were also quiet, which made them suitable for photos in situations where noise would have been problematic.

The modern digital ones, however, are not quiet.
 

flash

Veteran
May 6, 2011
103
Gordon
........ and a certain style which a Leica camera imposes on you ( "considered" photography ?) ............
The Rolling Road
For me, so far, with my limited time with the M9, it is this, combined with a prime lens only workflow, that is the defining factor that contributes to the "look".

As far as the digital vs film debate. The M9 has the most "film like" tonal range of the many digital cameras I've owned or used. It's hard to describe, but it's definitely there.

Gordon
 

Lili

Hall of Famer
Oct 17, 2010
123
Dallas, TX
Lili
For a very long time I shot one focal length, 80mm on 6X6, 65mm on 6X9, 35mm on 135. The first digital I bonded with was my GRD. Using a Prime teaches one to SEE. If one is not careful with a zoom one gets lazy and just racks the lens in and out, seeking an image. I find I seldom zoom these days unless I see the image first.
The earlier posts about the essential purity and speed of the Leica are well taken. It can be a camera that does not get in ones way.
For me that is what leads to the Leica "look".
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
103
The M9 has the most "film like" tonal range of the many digital cameras I've owned or used. It's hard to describe, but it's definitely there.
I've always thought of it as "Digital Velvia". The M9 also seems to meter in the same way as film cameras, it rarely produces that "washed-out" look that other digital cameras can often produce. There's the sharpness from the fact that there's no AA filter and a rich colour depth with a huge range of tones.

I do find it difficult to look at other cameras images without referring back to my M9 images. They have tended to spoil me, by showing just what a digital camera is capable of.
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
103
But, in my experience with Leica lenses there is a certain clarity to the images. Each lens is different, but in general I have found them to be contrasty and very sharp. So I wonder if the Leica "look", should there be one, is attributable primarily to the lenses.
I've actually used some non m-mount lesnses on my M9. A Nikon 50mm f/1.2 MF Nikkor and somewhat bizarrely a Samyang 14mm. When I was able to get a picture, since neither of them are able to use the rangefinder focusing, I was surprised to see that the files looked incredibly good and very similar to m-mount shots in terms of sharpness and colour. I'd expect that from the Nikkor but the Samyang was certainly a surprise.

Just as somewhat ordinary Sigma lenses can produce extraordinary images on that companies foveon sensors, the lack of an AA filter does produce, to my eyes, a much sharper image. In terms of Leica M series digital I've always thought the "look" was very much down to the sensor. I've seen Nikon D3 images with the AA filter removed and they look like they are taken with a different camera. I wish more companies would offer this, and indeed as an option.
 

Lili

Hall of Famer
Oct 17, 2010
123
Dallas, TX
Lili
For me the Leica "look" is based on image that knocked my socks off that were shot by the Masters in B&W.
Perhaps that is my own bias towards B&W, but I generally associate the Leica imagery with dramatic, superbly composed and lit monochrome images.
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

e510 35mm Zuiko Macro
For me that is closest I have come.
 
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soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
103
I think a lot of talented photographers have used Leicas to create their own "look". I'm fortunate enough to own one and certainly thats what I attempt to do with mine.
 

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