News from the 3rd Dimension

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Willkommen in der neuen Dimension

Still looking for the better Leica M?

Since the first copies of the new Leica M (Typ 240) appeared on the market early March 2013, there is a vast disparity between supply and demand of the new Leica M (Typ 240) causing a lot of discussion in the corresponding camera forums. In addition these discussions are heated up by quite contrary reviews and user stories expressing the whole range between absolute excitement and deep frustration. This article tries to focus on objective facts and findings determined since I entered the M community in early April. The review is underlined by many real world examples taken with M-mount lenses from Leica, Voigtlander and SLR Magic as well as some adapted Nikkor lenses. Additionally you find a short comparison to the Sony NEX-7.

Perhaps I may not be the typical Leica M customer as I do not care too much for the unique feature of the M: The optomechanical rangefinder. However this camera attracted me as it is currently the only mirrorless full frame digital camera on the market (except the Sony VG900 which is primarily a video camera) allowing to use all those really fantastic Leica M lenses and in contrast to the Leica M9 it is not limited to lenses with rangefinder coupling. Due to its live view and the optional EVF you can now use it for macro- and tele-photography and a wide range of adapted DSLR lenses as well aided by focus peaking and up to 10x magnification. Its new 24 MP CMOS sensor gains about 1 EV ISO performance and about 2 EV additional dynamic range compared to the CCD sensor of the M9 and allows to record 1080p videos at up to 25 fps with that camera as well. As I use a HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95 lens since about one year, I was also quite excited about that feature because at the moment it is the only combination allowing to use a 50mm f/0.92 full frame lens optimized for video. So the specifications and options sounded promising enough to ask my dealer to put me on the waiting list right in September 2012 when the camera was announced at the Photokina. In April I had the chance to get one in silver ("chrom") and immediately started exploring it.

Comparing the Leica M (with Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH) to the Sony NEX-7 (with SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 35mm T0.95)

One of the first questions on my list was: How does the M with a Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH compare to the Sony NEX-7 with a SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 35mm T0.95?


Flammenspuk - Urban Fire Artistry in Hamburg

April 2013 - Right after receiving Leica's new M camera I had the chance to use it for an insight into the world of fire artistry and juggling presented by two exceptionally charming and creative girls. Enjoy Caro and Kathleen from "Duo Flammenspuk":

(Please select HD 1080p and fullscreen in the player's button bar for best viewing experience. If you can not see the embedded video, please go to http://youtu.be/npIJ1OEz2Ic or http://vimeo.com/hhackbarth/flammenspuk. More photos can be seen in a Flickr-Album).

The stills and motion pictures were captured with a Leica M (Typ 240) and the following lenses (mostly at open aperture): Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH, SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95, Nikon AFS-Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 G ED. Please note that the flabby sequences you may determine during motion video were not caused by the camera. Due to some shaky handheld recording the motion pictures had to be deshaked in post production.

For more information about "Flammenspuk", please see http://www.flammenspuk.de


Waiting for the better "M"?

Let me first state that I am aware that this article propably may trigger a controverse discussion but if you have been linked to this article by forums or rumor sites, you propably already know that many open disussions about Leica products tend to get emotional. So I will try to concentrate on objective facts even though I am conscious that this writing is influenced by individual experience as well.

To better understand my point of view (and perhaps compare it to your personal vision), please let me recap with some distinctive experiences making up my mind before we come to the punch line:

After the Leica M9 was introduced in 2009 and all the hype about this camera I was very curious to make up my own mind what it means to shoot with a digital rangefinder. I already put aside the amount of money to buy into the M system with a M9 and about two lenses and spent a couple of days in 2010 intensively shooting the M9 and in another session in 2011 with a friend dedicated to the M9. Of course there were some nice and intensive shots like these:


Vibrant Southeast-Asia

Vibrant impressions from Southeast-Asia 2013.
This slideshow including some video snippets shows you enchanting moments of a trip through Singapore, Thailand (Bangkok), Cambodia (Sihanoukville), Vietnam (Saigon/Ho-Chi-Minh-City, Nha Trang, Da Nang, Hoi An, Halong Bay) and Hong Kong. Enjoy!

Best viewed in fullscreen-mode. In the video snippets, please activate the little "HD" symbol on the bottom bar of the player. Alternatively you may open this show in a seperate window.

Camera: Sony NEX-7; lenses: Sony 10-18mm F4 OSS, Zeiss 24mm F1.8, SLR Magic CINE 35mm T0.95, Sony 50mm F1.8

Thanks for watching!


Rumored Leica M 3D spotted in Hamburg

Hamburg, 01. April 2013 - Today we are proud to present a first snapshot of the rumored Leica M 3D prototype spotted in Hamburg.

After the successful launch of the new Leica M (type 240) many people asked what Leica will present as next model on their roadmap. After some rumors that Leica will focus more on stereoscopic photography in the future for an even more "3D pop" in the pictures taken with their gear, we spotted a first prototype already in February in Hamburg, Germany and had a chance to take a sample shot:

(red/cyan filter glasses required to see the spatial 3D effect)

I was told that Leica will provide also rubber bands fitted for pairs of 35mm and 50mm Summilux lenses allowing to transfer the focus setting from one lens to the other. Unfortunately the current prototype can not carry a pair of Noctilix 50/0.95 ASPH. The final version may also provide the option to attach two EVF (at the moment you have to switch the preview between left and right sensor).

We will try to get another hands-on session soon, so stay tuned!

P.S.: You propably know that you should not believe in all that is posted on the internet - especially on 1st of April...? ;)

All images copyright by 3D-Kraft.com.


Adorable 35s - Big 35mm Speed Lens Comparison (Leica, SLR Magic, Mitakon, Canon + Speed Booster, Samyang)

March 2013 - Back in February I had another opportunity in Hong Kong to compare quite a unique collection of superfast 35mm prime lenses that - attached to a NEX-7 - provide you an equivalent angle of view to a classical 50mm lens on full frame. Three of them start at an amazing aperture of about f/0.95 that compares in terms of depth of field (DOF) to 50mm f/1.4 on a fullframe sensor.

One of the candidates, the SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 35mm T0.95 was compared already in December 2012 to a Voigtländer Nokton 35mm f/1.2 ASPH (version I) and an AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 G on full frame (the  Nikon D800E) (here, in memory), thus triggering a discussion about onion rings ...

The shootout candidates (ordered by transmission / aperture):

  • SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 35mm T0.95
    The final production version used in this comparison will start shipping in about May 2013 for an introductory price of US$ 1249. It is a very solid (about 800g) construction with 12 lens elements, circular aperture blades and an extractable lens hood. The aperture ring operates clickless and is calibrated in T-stops (a transmission of T0.95 usually requires an aperture of about f/0.9 to f/0.92) and has the same cogging like the focus ring to support video applications (follow focus) as well. It is shipped with M-mount and an adapter to E-/X-/EF-M-Mount depending on your order. It covers APS-H sensor size but with its large rear element (diameter 36mm) it does not fit into the throat of current Leica-M cameras or Ricohs GXR module. For more details please see this article.
  • Mitakon 35mm f/0.95
    This lens is a very solid construction as well with 10 lens elements and a 10 blades aperture. It has good haptics, weighs about 680g and comes with E-mount. Prices I have seen so far varied between 700 (eBay auction) and 1000 US$ (private auction). The lens is manufactured in China and until now I did not see a dealer that offers it with warranty.
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens + Metabones Speed Booster (converting to a 35mm f/1.0 lens)
    This combination of a 50mm f/1.4 full frame lens and a focal converter provides you a lens with 35mm focal length and an aperture of f/1.0 still covering the size of an APS-C sensor. To understand that functional principle please see Metabone's white paper. The adapter is designed to transmit /convert also the electrical signals to the lens in order to control aperture setting and autofocus (on selected lenses) by the camera. The Canon EF 50/1.4 lens is about 400 US$, the adapter costs about 600 US$ when ordered in Hong Kong.
  • Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH
    This lens is designed with 9 elements, one with aspherical surface and 9 aperture blades. It is very compact and weighs only about 320g. Some people say it is still the "35mm/1.4 reference". Prices are about 5000 US$ (new and about 4500 US$ used).
  • Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC
    This lens is designed for fullframe DSLRs and constructed with 12 lens elements (some aspherical) in 10 groups and an aperture with 8 blades. It weighs about 712g. It is availabe with different mounts and has an attractive price of about 500 US$.
  • Leica Summicron-M 35mm f/2.0 ASPH
    This even more compact desgined lens is propably the smallest 35mm f/2.0 fullframe lens avaiilable today. It is designed with 7 elements (one aspherical surface), has an 8-bladed diaphragm and weighs 254g. Price is about 3200 US$.

In this article we will cover

- overall comparison
- center-sharpness of the f/0.95 and f/1.4 candidates at open aperture and F1.4 as well as edge sharpness (of the 0.95 candidates)
- bokeh (rendering of the out-of-focus areas and the shape of the circles of confusion of highlights) at F0.95, F1.4 and F2.0
- conclusion
- further sample shots

Acting as a good subject for real world photos, we met Bertille Tabourot, who is a stylist and fashion designer from Paris, living currently in Hong Kong. She used this opportunity to present some of her fancy creations acting as a freelance model.


Adorable 25s - 25mm F0.95 Speed Lens Comparison on Lumix GH3

28 Feb. 2013 - Last week was one of the highlights of my trip through Southeast Asia as I had the chance and pleasure to compare the upcoming SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 25mm T0.95 to three other highly adorable, wide open 25mm F0.95 lenses. Let us see how they perform on the latest mFT camera, the Lumix GH3!

This little shootout was more a kind of spontaneous incident as we had some daylight remaining at the end of an "Adorable 35s" session planned for that day in Hong Kong with Andrew Chan and some friends. Andrew is the driving force of SLR Magic and very passionate about great lenses - not only those he builds by himself. But let me state that I am not affiliated with SLR Magic and payed for all lenses I got from them. We got some kind support from Bertille Tabourot, who is a stylist and fashion designer from France, living currently in Hong Kong. For this comparison shooting she took the chance to present one of her fancy creations acting as a freelance model.

But now let's talk about the principal performers of this shootout ordered by "age":

  • P. Angenieux Paris 25mm Type M1 f/0.95
    This very compact and beautyful lens was developed in 1953 and at that time the fastest 25mm design. One of the early copies was used by NASA to take the first photographs of the moon from a lunar probe. It is said to have a very cinematic look, a nice bokeh when used wide open and sharp look when stopped down. It is quite hard to find and prices may be around 1500 US$ when in good condition.
  • Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 25mm F/0.95
    Schneider Xenon designs have their origin already in 1925 when Tronnier derived it as an asymmetrical derivative of the classical double-Gauss design. The Xenon 25mm f/0.95 became available in the 1960s. The particular copy used in this test was manufactured in late 1978 or 1979 and was equipped with a built-in center spot ND filter that could be ordered for special applications. Current versions do not have that filter and look a bit different, see here. Used prices will vary between 800 and 1500 US$ depending on condition and type.
  • Voigtländer Nokton 25mm f/0.95
    This lens was developed by Cosina Voigtlander and became available for the MicroFourThirds mount in 2010. It is known to be already pretty sharp wide open with increased sharpness when stopped down to F1.4 to F2.0. Price is about 1200 US$.
  • SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 25mm T0.95
    Production version will become likely available in April 2013 and will start at a price of 799 US$. It has cinema lens gears and aperture keeps round even when stopped down. In this comparison we used a pre-production (step 2) sample. For a rating of sharpness and bokeh please see my conclusion at the end of this article.

Overall Picture Comparison (F0.95 / T0.95)

The following pictures were all shot from the same postion between 6:19 and 6:27 p.m. on a cloudy day already after sunset in order to get a nice light mood with some point shaped highlights in the background. To avoid motion blur, exposure times were kept at 1/125s which results in ISO settings already between 400 and 1000 (due to differences in transmission/vignetting and sligthly dimming light) and of course we used a tripod.

Let us start with the Angenieux 25/0.95 at open aperture:


"Maskenzauber" - Venetian Carnival and Maskenball 2013 in Hamburg

Hamburg is not only known as a town with more bridges than Venice, it also celebrates a Venetian carnival since 12 years now. It's an enchanting event for every visitor and a "must see" for every photographer.

This time I decided to catch the magic moments with a SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 35mm T0.95 mounted to a Sony NEX7 to get that perfect melange of sharpness and bokeh in order to keep that mood of light and poetic noblesse. But pictures speak louder than words...

(Switching to fullscreen mode (rightmost button on the bottom icon bar) is highly recommended)

In order to be able to see the single images (also in full resolution), please follow the link to my Flickr-Album: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hhackbarth/sets/72157632617122420/

A Venetian ballroom night was celebrated at the enchanting "Lola Rogge Schule" in even more fascinating historical costumes:

Finally there was also a chance to take some impressive 3D-shots:

You find an album with the 3D images here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hhackbarth/sets/72157632646619067/

Please use red/cyan filterglasses to see the 3D effect. You can download the stereoscopic 3D images in MPO-format for your 3D device here:

MPO-File #1
MPO-File #2

All images copyright by 3D-Kraft.com.


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