Requiem For a Camera Store


BelAir Camera in Westwood CA closed after being in business a thousand years. The old owner sold to a new one who she hoped would return the store to its former glory. But he closed the place just a few months after buying it. Rika, Moe, Francisco, Peter, hope you guys land on your feet. Very sorry to learn of this. BelAir was a store where the stuff that dreams were made of lived. I loved the place and spent enough time and money there to practically put myself out of business.

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50 ‘Chron Goes to a Clippers Game


Such a stunning lens. Mine was a Canadian version, late optics but older housing. Great lens and I miss it. Don’t sell stuff!

Meet the Newest Member of My Family


No, not Rika, my main Leica pimp at BelAir Camera! It’s a new lens. The 75mm APO-Summicron 2.0 ASPH. Here NOT shown at its best, unfortunately. NO not because of Rika. Behave yourselves! It’s because I shot at ISO 160 which brought my shutter speed down to an arrogant 1/30th of a second. Too slow for my excited hands in that light. So you don’t really see the incredible sharpness of the glass wide open. But… uh… you do see the color and contrast of this incredible tool. Thank you and good morning!

For Maurizio: A Few From the Perfectly Ridiculous Leica 90mm 2.8 Elmarit

Actually, SO many of the images shown on this website this year were taken with this lens. Just click on the categories or tags under the name,




Okay. Are you ready for the kicker? Nice elderly woman in her 70s El Dorado Cadillac. I’ve shot a lot of photo gear. Pro Nikon gear all the way. I’ve never seen anything like this. Click on either of the images below and be amazed.


Riding on Air With the 50’Lux – Part Two

More images from this past Sunday with the incredible Leica 50mm Summilux 1.4 ASPH. Again, whatever virtues these image have are most likely to reveal themselves if you click on them and view the much larger, processed for that size, resolution versions. And thank you for visiting!

Riding on Air With the 50’Lux – Part One

Sometimes I don’t use a particular Leica lens for a while, maybe just to see if I could live without it. Well, of course I could live without any or all of them. But I’m not sure you could call that living. (winking!)

Anyway. I hadn’t shot this website’s namesake lens for a couple of months. I was just loving my 50mm Summicron (Canada) that much, along with the incredible 90mm Elmarit 2.8.

Every time I go back to a lens I’ve been neglecting, it always seems to let me know what kind of fool I really am. The 50’Lux came down hard and lovely on my conscience. Color is different from every other lens. I’ve called it ‘comic book’ color and I stand by that, although these images which are processed might not show that aspect as well as the RAW files.

It may not be quite as sharp as either of my ‘Crons, or quite have that classic Leica sizzle. But the Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH is the Scarlet Johansson of camera lenses. Overwhelmingly smooth and delicious. You really have to click on the images here to see a larger version to see how amazing this lens is.

These were all shot yesterday, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, on a relatively short ride around certain parts of Los Angeles. Happy to be able to take you all along with us. Me and Scarlet that is. (winking, again!)
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Why shooting Leica is Orgasmic

20130426-L1012797-2Men can say something is ‘orgasmic’ can’t we? If not then disregard the use of that word by me. 😉

Point is, it’s almost like that. What specifically am I talking about? What’s so special about shooting Leica that is different than other cameras or systems? MANY things, but I’m thinking of one in particular.

The other night we jumped up into Beverly Hills for a couple of margaritas at Chipotle on Beverly Drive. I brought the M-E and the 50mm 1.4 Summilux ASPH. Many great opportunities for low light shots along the street up there but, unfortunately, after two or three of those Chipotle margaritas I’m just lucky to be walking upright.

So I’m shooting some store windows etc. and the young lady I’ve spent my life with points to a window and says something effusively positive. But what’s behind the window is unlit and there’s a large store front awning shading the glass itself from any visible ambient light from the surrounding stores or street. So I go into the photographer’s speech about, well, honey, you don’t understand, there’s NO light here. It’s a nice display but your eyes had to practically adjust to even see it.

We photographers look for LIGHT, silly non-photographer. Etc.

Then I thought, well, of course, we can SEE it. So there must be some light illuminating it. So I have my camera on 800 ISO and I don’t even open the 50 ‘Lux all the way. It’s at f2. I stand very still, press the camera against my cheek. Dial the shutter till I get a solid dot. And then I watch something in my image as the shutter is open to make SURE I don’t move. That is the Leica Death Stare. Master it. Lock on an object and YOU WILL KNOW if you’ve moved and have to retake the picture.

Honestly, this has become one of the most fun things I do with my Leica cameras. I LOVE shooting at disgustingly slow shutter speeds. I’m not happy if I’m not doing it. It’s orgasmic.

The old photographic rule of choosing a shutter speed that’s faster than the focal length of your lens in order to eliminate camera shake? If you shoot Leica, you should know that, OF COURSE, this rule does NOT apply to you.

Not to be a jerk, but you SPENT that whatever thousands of dollars you spent to shoot this gear. And you’ve all too often heard people say… What’s the difference? What’s the point? It’s the photographer, not the camera!

Well this is a difference. A huge difference. And one of just many.  I shot Nikon pro gear for most of the last ten years. A heavy D2Hs and D3 and D700. Massive lenses that jut out 6 inches from the body of the camera, and more. I wasn’t comfortable shooting less than 1/250 of the second! You’d BETTER adhere to photographic rules and guidelines like the one stated above. And then, hold your breath!

But with a Leica M-anything? Just never mind all that. It’s not your concern at all. If it is, you’re doing something wrong. The flatness of the M bodies and the slim center of gravity allow you to hold the camera firm against your cheek and there’s NO long heavy lens to teeter the center of gravity and blur your photograph.

And, as a result, you can practically make your own light. Yes, the light is bad. No, I don’t really care. There IS light, that is the only relevant point to a Leica shooter. We just have to operate in a different universe of expectations about how much is there and what we have to do with our camera to capture the light that is there. And these cameras do that like no other cameras on Earth.

The above shot was taken with a 50mm lens in almost no visible light at all. The shutter speed was 1/8th of a second. And I was drunk.

New M (240) shots…


Had the opportunity, yada, yada. The first and third images are ISO 800. The others, ISO 200. No noise reduction. But, sorry pixel peepers, I’ve adjusted anything else I wanted to adjust and I hereby pronounce the camera fantastic. Handling. Speed. I love the pictures. No problems here. All images were made with the 50’lux.

I have not seen my 50’lux, meaning seen the results of taking pictures with it, in quite this way prior to the five minutes or so that I shot it on the new M yesterday afternoon. That is the look I’ve wanted and dreamed of, and it’s been there to some degree with both film and my M-E. But that lusted-after wide-open Summilux-look just gob smacks you when you look at the files from this new M 240.

It was also very important to me that I process the images into what I want them to be. As opposed to just doing a straight JPEG conversion as so many people seem to of done when showing the results from this new camera. I understand why people would want to do that and why people would want to see those images. And they have done and seen it, ad nauseum. But someone, for balance, I felt, needed to do what they would normally do with their images from a camera. And that is process them to their own liking.

I did these in 10 minutes tops. Once I processed the first image, I copied the settings (in Lightroom) and just applied them to the other images. I like to do that with any set of images from a particular situation so that there is consistency throughout a group of shots from any one lighting environment or moment in time.

So from the time I walked in the front door till the time I posted these images to my blog was no more than 25 minutes, and that included grabbing and eating a salad. The reason I was in a hurry was that I wanted to get back to the camera store and take more pictures before the Leica representative closed up shop and put away Leica’s new baby. I was easily able to do that and I do have more shots though I’m not sure there’s anything worth showing but I will see.

This new camera is a unique creative tool. That is something I’m very confident in saying. I think that it presents the product of your lenses, these great Leica lenses, in their best light.

But also I think it will allow photographers who want to shoot Leica to do many of the things that fall, or have fallen, only within the realm of what Canon and Nikon pro gear users can do and that is indoor work, inside churches and reception halls, press situations, etc., and come away with the raw material to very quickly produce a professional standard product.

Leica seems to have added that layer of capability to their M system now, in my opinion, topping off what their gear can be used for and by whom.






Fujifilm X100: The Only Digital Camera I Own

A life-long dedicated Nikon man, I bought my first Nikon digital camera back in the very late 90s. That was the very cool indeed and twisty Coolpix 950.

When the D70 hit the camera world like a cyclone in 2004, I got my first Nikon DSLR, along with a gazillion other people. From there I got a D2Hs to shoot sports. Not my favorite camera in the world, I replaced it with a pair of D80s. The D80, with its D2x-lite sensor, was and still is one of my favorite cameras ever.

But once you get used to a pro body in your hand, you can never really be happy with a consumer-grade camera again especially when you’re using your gear in pro-settings and putting it all through the wear and tear of celebrity rope lines or basketball baselines.

So when the D3 came into existence, the first full-frame digital Nikon, I got one of those. Soon I backed it up with a D200 and then I added the D3’s little brother, the D700.

Wow. I’m losing track. That’s a lot of cameras. I know some of you have me beat by a mile, too. You know who you are. 😉

I threw in a Lumix LX3, a kicky little gem that set the standard for point and shoot cameras for more years than it should have.

Then…  I bought a Leica M9. The first full frame Leica M camera was mine. I shot the M9 for a solid year. 24k shutter trips. It was a love/hate relationship. ‘Nuff said.

They’re now all gone. Every one of them.

The only digital camera I currently own is the Fuji X100. And I love it.

Here is what I love about it. It is the only small sensor point and shoot camera that I know of that allows for actually narrow depth of field / wide aperture shooting with good bokeh and out of focus areas.

This really hasn’t been something doable much on point and shoot cameras do to the inherent small size of the sensors.

But the Fuji X100 does something else with that capability that’s even more remarkable.

I allows you to SEE that narrow depth of field and out of focus look, exactly what you’re getting, on the LCD before you shoot.

And we’re not talking about the barely usable Nikon version of Live View. This is a standard point and shoot LCD, but with the added joy of showing you, instead of you having to imagine, what your narrow depth of field image is going to look like.

Can you imagine what this feature would be like on a Leica M, working with THAT glass?

It’s a wonderful advancement. I know some other camera systems now provide it but this is the first that I’ve owned and it has to be one of the smallest cameras that gives you this capability. But this isn’t a blog that is even remotely about keeping up with the latest gear. I’m happily out of the loop on much of the latest gear and what it all does.

Do I shoot the X100 a lot? No. I wouldn’t say I do. The reason I don’t is because I’m in love with shooting film and I shoot my Leica M7 a lot. But this camera is a keeper for a guy like me.

I even use it at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to grab shots for my sports coverage articles. Yes, you can even manage a couple of passable sports action shots with this camera.

2500 ISO, f4, 1/250 sec

High ISO capability is better, in some ways, than the D3/D700 sensor. I think the x100 files retain good color integrity further up in the ISO range than those two Nikon pro cameras do.

Anyway. From the outset I found the X100 to be a fantastic addition to my own personal photography. Mostly all of the images here in this post were taken last November, the first month I got my hands on the Fuji. Hope you enjoy them. They’re a little ‘creative.’ (insert wink here)