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

usayit

Veteran
Sep 4, 2010
44
If you're reading this and think we're completely deluded - that's OK, too.:wink:
Raises hand with much hesitation.

I've shot with an M3, M6, M8, M9... with a variety of lenses with the "Leica" branding as well as some of the highest quality Canon lenses and a boat load of collected manuals. I don't believe in "Magic-Leica-Fairy-Dust" nor the so called "Leica Look". IT does NOT exist.

What I do believe in is a wonderful system that provides, without the distraction of complexity, the tools a photographer needs to create what they visualize, capture a decisive moment, and tell a story with a full bag of unique lenses ranging from the razor sharpness of a Summilux, classical look of a Summicron, to the broad strokes of a Noctilux. To enjoy not only the resulting photo but the whole process starting from the click. Its subtle but everything contributes to the final work.

and no... Leica doesn't suddenly make you a great photographer... I certainly enjoy trying to be one with a Leica in hand.



PS> There's a good reason why I own a Noctilux and a Summilux both in 50mm... nope its not redundant.
 

Brian

Top Veteran
Jul 7, 2010
103
The Leica Look is the Collapsible Summicron, type I Rigid Summicron, and the Summarit 5cm F1.5. Now those lenses have a distinctive look that is Leica.
 

defektive

Veteran
May 4, 2011
43
Tasmania, Australia
Sam




Neither of these images shows much in the way of composition or subject matter but they both demonstrate to me (in different ways) what I believe is the Leica look - the subdued light on the hills in the first image and the 3D effect on the trees in the second.

Having said that I'm not sure if they count as they were both taken with an M8 but the lens was a Hexanon:redface:.
 

andrewh973

Regular
Mar 13, 2011
43
NYC metro are
Raises hand with much hesitation.

I've shot with an M3, M6, M8, M9... with a variety of lenses with the "Leica" branding as well as some of the highest quality Canon lenses and a boat load of collected manuals. I don't believe in "Magic-Leica-Fairy-Dust" nor the so called "Leica Look". IT does NOT exist.

What I do believe in is a wonderful system that provides, without the distraction of complexity, the tools a photographer needs to create what they visualize, capture a decisive moment, and tell a story with a full bag of unique lenses ranging from the razor sharpness of a Summilux, classical look of a Summicron, to the broad strokes of a Noctilux. To enjoy not only the resulting photo but the whole process starting from the click. Its subtle but everything contributes to the final work.

and no... Leica doesn't suddenly make you a great photographer... I certainly enjoy trying to be one with a Leica in hand.



PS> There's a good reason why I own a Noctilux and a Summilux both in 50mm... nope its not redundant.
Amen!
 

nikki

Veteran
Sep 12, 2011
103
Dublin ,Ireland
I think there is definitly a Leica look! If you cant see it -no harm if you cant but if you can then you compare every camera to it .I shoot black and white ,mainly with leicas. I have had canons and panasonic but find their black and white too contrasty and punchy. I think leicas are softer with a film effect !i do like the look and feel of the x100 but find their pictures too dark!

thinking | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
merchants arch | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
 

Hoggdoc

New Member
Jun 4, 2012
1
OK I see what you mean

View attachment 1442

View attachment 1443

Neither of these images shows much in the way of composition or subject matter but they both demonstrate to me (in different ways) what I believe is the Leica look - the subdued light on the hills in the first image and the 3D effect on the trees in the second.

Having said that I'm not sure if they count as they were both taken with an M8 but the lens was a Hexanon:redface:.
While I can see the trees standing out in this image, to attribute it to the camera and lens may not be completely valid. The only way to know for sure is is someone else were standing in the exact place you stood at the exact same time and took a picture (with good equipment) but not a Lieca. There are many things that could contribute to the look you see in this image of the trees, the least of which is the light conditions at that moment in time from that exact POV.

Light does very interesting things to scenes laid out in from of us. For example many years ago I was spotting for a friend while he practiced shooting his 44 MAG handgun at a target over 200 yards down range. I was located right behind him but slightly to the right of dead center line of the path of travel of the projectile. The sun was low in the sky and to my right. After his second round I stopped him to tell him I say the rounds going down range, while looking through the spotting scope. We discovered while unusual it is not unheard of to witness such a display when light is right.

To sum up I believe the results in this image you have shared has more to do with the light at that moment. Of course my theory goes out the door if you have more examples of this type of thing taken at different times and places.

Just my very long two cents.
 

Isoterica

Hall of Famer
Dec 6, 2011
123
Given how long Leica has been around and all the professionals that have used the camera over the years, the images you still see today from those photographers as well as what you are seeing from newer photographers [taken in a similar documentary vein] using the same LTM or M cameras or the digital M successors, the eye is trained to interpret similar images as Leica images. Breaking that down, whether by theme or composition or final artistic rendering-- a decent camera/lens in the hands of a relatively skilled photographer can create a Leic-a-like photo. That is my perspective on it anyway.
 

Brian

Top Veteran
Jul 7, 2010
103
All lenses are trade-offs in optical design, Leica usually went for highly corrected optics. I tend to keep Sonnar formula lenses on my Leica's, but certainy appreciate a Summicron.
 

Brian

Top Veteran
Jul 7, 2010
103
C-Sonnar Look.



Jupiter-3 Look.



1935 5cm f1.5 uncoated Sonnar Look:



1934 5cm f2 Sonnar Look.

 
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Andrewteee

All-Pro
Jul 8, 2010
123
I'm with Kristen. For me, the Leica look is a documentary film look. But in truth that could be taken with any photographer/camera in search of narrative truth.
 

Brian

Top Veteran
Jul 7, 2010
103
If there is a Leica Look, then consider what makes a Leica different from cameras from other manufacturers.

1) The camera is a long-base rangefinder, and offers more accurate focus for fast lenses under 100mm or so than does an SLR. There are fast lenses for SLR's: the primary reason for buying them and leaving them on the camera was to have a bright viewfinder. Usually they were stopped down in actual use. It is easier for me to focus the 85/2 on the Nikon SP than it is for me to focus the 85/2 on the Nikon F3HP SLR. A 50/1.4- faster on a rangefinder than waiting for AF on an SLR to settle down. And a 50/1.1 on the M9 vs a 50/1.2 on an SLR: the Leica is easier. These days, Leica and RF users tend to shoot with their lenses near full-aperture.

2) The lenses are highly color-corrected. Even going back to the 30s, the Leica lenses were so well color corrected that the Infrared focus index was within the F2 DOF marks. Most other lens manufacturers, closer to F4. Not quite "Apochromats"- but much better color correction than other manufacturers. Leica lenses tended to be lower-contrast, Zeiss and the Japanese manufacturers went for higher-contrast, less surfaces, but not as well corrected.
 

stillshunter

Super Moderator Emeritus
Nov 5, 2010
123
Down Under
Mark
If there is a Leica Look, then consider what makes a Leica different from cameras from other manufacturers.

1) The camera is a long-base rangefinder, and offers more accurate focus for fast lenses under 100mm or so than does an SLR. There are fast lenses for SLR's: the primary reason for buying them and leaving them on the camera was to have a bright viewfinder. Usually they were stopped down in actual use. It is easier for me to focus the 85/2 on the Nikon SP than it is for me to focus the 85/2 on the Nikon F3HP SLR. A 50/1.4- faster on a rangefinder than waiting for AF on an SLR to settle down. And a 50/1.1 on the M9 vs a 50/1.2 on an SLR: the Leica is easier. These days, Leica and RF users tend to shoot with their lenses near full-aperture.

2) The lenses are highly color-corrected. Even going back to the 30s, the Leica lenses were so well color corrected that the Infrared focus index was within the F2 DOF marks. Most other lens manufacturers, closer to F4. Not quite "Apochromats"- but much better color correction than other manufacturers. Leica lenses tended to be lower-contrast, Zeiss and the Japanese manufacturers went for higher-contrast, less surfaces, but not as well corrected.
Brian you positively blow me away with your knowledge of optics. So glad we have you on-board mate. :2thumbs:

....to be honest I just thought the "Leica look" was a term used by folks like me who <s> want </s> need to justify the spend of thousands of dollars on a confederacy of glass and metal. :blush:
 
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Brian

Top Veteran
Jul 7, 2010
103
Money on Leica.

Any working car will get you from Point A to Point B.

Some people spend a lot of money on cars. I never have. I have never financed a car, or a camera. A Leica M9 Monochrome is less money than the difference between my car and those that I normally pull up next to in the parking lot at work.
 

Andrewteee

All-Pro
Jul 8, 2010
123
Any working car will get you from Point A to Point B.

Some people spend a lot of money on cars. I never have.
That's why I drive your basic Subaru wagon. Gets me anywhere anytime in any kind of weather to go take pictures (with my expensive cameras :wink: )

But I'll say those newer Outbacks are getting pretty fancy for a Subaru.
 

ajramirez

Hall of Famer
Jul 9, 2010
124
Caguas, Puerto Rico
Antonio
I am one of those who believe there is a certain look to photos taken with Leica lenses. Although not easily appreciable on a computer monitor, it is more evident on well made prints. Two examples from my 50mm 2.8 M Elmar:

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Contemplación by ramirezaponte, on Flickr

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En la Plaza Palmer by ramirezaponte, on Flickr

The first one is on the Leica M9P. The second one is on Ektar 100 film on the Leica M6TTL, converted to B&W with SFX 2.0. The loveliness of the transitions between the out of focus and the sharp parts of the photographs, the rendering of the tones, the almost 3D look to the in-focus parts, that is what, to me, is the Leica look.

Cheers,

Antonio
 
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