What can you shoot in an hour with a 40mm f2.0 lens and an older camera body? Daido Moriyama sez: (paraphrasing): "blaze away and shoot anything that captures your interest. No hierarchy of subject matter. Don't think! Shoot! His first piece of advice for newbies? Get Outside!!!

Sometimes it takes me a while to warm up to a lens. Not so with the 40mm f2.0 Ultron Aspherical, version 2, from Voigtlander. I bought it brand new, in a Nikon F mount, adapted it to the L mount, put it on a Leica SL and only take it off if I want to use its bigger brother, the 58mm f1.4 Voigtlander --- also in a Nikon F mount. They even share a lens hood...

Why a Nikon F mount and not a Leica M mount? Cheaper. More real estate to park your fingers on. Bigger (more standard) filter ring. Exactly the same optical formula. Easy to adapt to any mirrorless camera AND --- who knows? We might devolve back to DSLRs in which case my choice would have to be a Nikon D850. The lens has the electronic contacts to communicate aperture and exif to digital Nikon bodies.

Do I like the lens? Hell yeah. It's easy to focus, it's pretty sharp wide open. It's deliriously sharp at f5.6 (where I find myself using it most often) and the colors out of it match up well with the color science embedded in Leica's first gen., full frame mirrorless camera body = The Leica SL 601. A camera so nice and so cheap on the market that I bought two. (Cheap is relative; I know. But $1800 bucks for a body that cost $7500 just a few years ago works for me. Plus, you know, I sell the plasma...).

Here's my assortment of images from a brisk walk through the area just to the West of the UT campus. When I lived there it was all hippy co-ops and weird re-dos of old houses into tiny apartments. Almost everyone rode bicycles for basic transportation. When my bike got stolen I walked. Or rode the bus. 

Now it's a sprawling neighborhood of giant, high rise luxury dormitories and condos. Looks a lot like Dubai but with scruffy, rich kid students roaming around in flip flops, board shorts and odd t-shirts. Boys seemingly are required to wear their baseball hats backwards. Sunglasses at all times. 

Several of the newer high rise dorms have lobbies that look to have been designed by the same folks that design the Four Seasons Hotel and Ritz Carlton Hotel lobbies -- only these are bigger and nicer. And get this: Five of the high rise dorms have, wait for it, valet parking for the students. 

That never happened when I went to UT. And back when I was on the faculty we drove old VW bugs or harshly used Volvo station wagons, not the latest M5 BMWs or the almost ubiquitous (all over West Austin) Porsche Macans. You can now tell the students from really wealthy families apart from those who are just well off...The really wealthy ones have the Macan S Turbos while the "riff raff" are driving the standard models or the Newports.

Nobody to photograph on the streets....they're all driving around behind tinted glass...

But here are the images my house manager selected for me to share. I hope our personal chef agrees.
(both would be --- me). 

 A message from Daido Moriyama: "Get Outside!"


Post processing versus "tweaking" a file. Big difference? Little corrections?


Original Version from the camera. 
A greenish wall of construction material with barbed wire in the foreground.

I've spent a lot of time this week reading about and researching topics around A.I. and photography. There is not just one slippery slope to contend with, there are many. While I'm opposed to creating fantasy images out of a combination text descriptions coupled with the endurance of being able to hit the "generate" button some 2,000 times before selecting a machine proffered, computer-created picture that one likes ( his practice according to an A.I. poster of such images on Instagram), I'm also reconsidering where one draws the lines/boundaries in something as simple as image tweaking. Or its more complex sounding brother: post processing

It's important to remember that even digital cameras set to all neutral or standard settings are still a design team's working idea of what a digital image should look like and are just two dimensional representations of the reality existing in front of the camera. Move from RAW file to Jpeg instead and the ability to introduce these kinds of subjective "tweaks" goes up dramatically. But where is the line between "sin" and "salvation" for a typical image that's meant to be shared with an audience?

I walked by this elevation of a building project when I was over near the UT campus yesterday afternoon. I liked the color of the wall but the added attraction which actually stopped me and convinced me to take a photograph was the barbed wire running across the bottom fifth of the frame. When I got back to the studio and looked at the .DNG file on my computer the overall image seemed flat and lacking the "pop" I experienced when I initially saw it. I'm sure the top photo is more accurate a representation of what's there but if you consider that I was wearing my polarized, anti-reflection coated, prescription sunglasses at the time of the reveal you might understand why my memory of the wall doesn't quite jive with the reality of the wall. At least from my point of view. Probably a good reason not to wear your sunglasses around when you are out photographing....if you are looking for faithful concordance with the "facts."

Here's what I did to make the image match what my brain first saw when I turned the corner and happened on the wall...

The first thing I did with the RAW image was to go to the lens correction menu in Lightroom Classic and look to see if the lens I was using was represented. I scrolled down to the Voigtlander submenu and a then scrolled through a couple dozen profiles to find the 40mm Ultron f2.0 SLii Aspherical profile and I selected that. On the screen you could see the building straighten out and the gentle barrel distortion get corrected. Look closer and you could see the vignetting in the corners brighten and the corner details tighten up. The image also seemed brighter overall; a result of subduing mid-frame vignetting perhaps. 

My next step was to see what the noise reduction menu would serve up. I wasn't so interested in noise reduction as I was with another selection in that submenu; it's called: "Raw Details." This uses some degree of A.I. to bring more observable fine detail to the files. Yes, it's perhaps technically A.I. but not sentient by a long shot. I think the extent of the feature's intelligence is to look at the basic structure of the file and make assumptions about how sharpness gets robbed in the process of going through a camera's circuits and internal processing and then trying to reverse that sharpness and detail degradation by interpolating using existing structures and then augmenting them with presumed "lost" data.

It seems to work very well but the effect is subdued. At least in the files I worked with. Why not just click the noise reduction option? Well, the file was shot in bright light at ISO 50 and a close observation at 100% didn't show me any reason to fool around with noise reduction in what was basically a noiseless file. 

My next step was to apply a "user preset" I've engineered for Leica SL 601 raw files. It boosts the white slider in the basic control panel, also increases shadow exposure, adds a +20 to the clarity slider awhile adding +20 to the vibrance control and +20 to the saturation slider. 

Most of these settings are "canned." Which basically means I've processed enough similar files to establish a look that I like. Not a neutral look, or even a more accurate look, but a look that conflates with my own subjective appraisal of what a generic, sunlight scene needs to have added in post production to make it look the way my brain wants stuff to look. Call it my "Pollyanna Profile" since it is almost inevitably brighter and more colorful that the camera's initial point of view. 

If I was incredibly busy, day-to-day, and a lot of my work involved endless post processing of similar files, I would probably spend a bit of time creating individual presets for not only every camera's raw files but all manner of subject types and lighting conditions. Examples: Portraits in open shade. Portraits in full sun. Portraits in artificial light interiors. Portraits at dusk. Architecture on cloudy days. Architecture on sunny days. Architecture at dusk, etc. etc. 

While I bump up against a prejudice (mostly from engineers and people firmly and fully invested in some form of linear logic...) that states that we should all be invested in creating photographs that are as close to the objective reality of a scene as humanly possible that's really not for me. Sorry, that's not part of my "religion" as a photographer. I know that we're "interpreting." That's where the fun lies...

I think my work should match my subjective intention for a scene instead. But where are the edges of the slippery slope and at what particular angle does it become dangerously out of whack? I guess that's for each of us to figure out in our own work. The steeper the slope the more exciting the journey; but the same thing that makes the journey exciting increases the chances of peril.

Just thought these samples might give you some insight into my point of view. Thanks. 

"Lightly" processed wall. To my taste. 

Camera and lens?

The fabulous Leica SL (601) and the Voigtlander 40mm f2.0 Ultron ZF.2 SLii. 

And here's one more, just for grins:

Advertising aimed at anyone who might want to shave their armpits. 

When writers or bloggers or vloggers write about processing I think
it's only correct to supply samples of their own work when 
explaining their choices. Just pontificating isn't as 

New Eyeglasses arriving Wednesday. Can't wait. 


Been reading a book about Daido Moriyama's Street Photography and have already started to fall under the influence...


After reading the passages in the book, "How I Take Photographs." and also looking intently at his work in the book, I grabbed a camera and headed over to the UT campus area to take some of my own photographs. His aesthetic is very much about the quick snapshot and I pushed myself to see quicker and photograph quicker. 

It was a fun exercise. I also came to understand his idea that we can spend way too much time analyzing and dissecting snapshots and raising the anté around taking them. I see Garry Winogrand as the "American Moriyama" now. It's a liberating way of making images. 

Shot here with an ancient Leica SL 601 camera and the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm lens. 

The best images I think I've taken in many weeks. 

Making Generative A.I. Jealous for Decades to Come...


Actual analog portrait. 

Fighting back against the dark scourge of computer generated images by applying our own skill sets and imaginations to actual, non-virtual subjects might be the best way to fight back. That, and making nice prints. Have a friend who considers himself or herself a photographer but is spending all their time in their basement hitting "generate" and waiting for software to decide what the software would like to show them next? Well, censure them by taking them off your "freinds list," cancelling that coffee date,  and telling them how "disappointed" you are with their lapse in taste/judgement/ethics etc. Suggest that "real photographers" make their work with cameras, and real people, and real locations. Everything else is just a video game.

Programmers who scraped the web, stole "source" materials that never belonged to them and created tools to leverage their theft should be so ashamed of themselves. Content Criminals; for sure.

It's been almost a year now since consumers have been able to walk into a camera store and walk out with a new Fuji X100V. What's the deal?

 The Fuji X100V trended on TikTok last year and every influencer with a pulse rushed to talk up the camera and wear one as a fashion accessory. Or maybe the few columns I wrote about the camera back in 2021 fueled an explosion of demand, but whatever the reason the supply chain issues with this product should be long past by this time and the cameras should once again be widely available --- but they are not. Every major retailer is showing "backordered" on their websites. The used market is still a bit frantic with scummy extortionists asking upwards of $2,500 USD for a copy in decent shape. So now I'm becoming quite suspicious. 

My first thought is that someone did some deep data mining and predictive analysis with the assistance of A.I., predicted worldwide demand and leveraged their Crypto currency holdings to lock up the entire production output of X100V cameras in early 2022. Now hundreds of thousands of these precious cameras are locked up in a warehouse in Azerbaijan waiting for the apex of consumer desire to bubble over into a buying frenzy at which time the culprits will open an online storefront and sell the coveted camera by the  by the train car load for somewhere north of $2000-$2500 each. 

My second thought was that Fuji saw how quickly they were able to sell through their first two year's worth of inventory and is playing pretty much the same game. They sit back and blame the "supply chain" even though the processors used throughout the product line are largely identical. This gives them the breathing room and a consumer availability disconnection to buffer their next move. They'll "discontinue" the product and then when there is a global uproar of protest and bitter consumer angst they will bend to popular demand and "relaunch" the X100V, but at an increased price of $2295 per camera. They might, even now, be stuffing their warehouses to the gills in anticipation...

I can just imagine their new advertising campaign slogan: "Nearly as good as the Leica Q3 but only a third of the price." Followed by: "Get yours now before they disappear forever." Echoed in some markets by Ricoh's new slogan for the GR111x: "Not the camera you wanted but the camera you can get right now." 

Why would Fuji do this? Mostly to add about $600 of profit to each camera sold. And because they've done their historic business research which showed them that people were willing to pay premiums for Enron stock, a company with no intrinsic value, right up to the bitter end. At least a camera holds some physical, residual value...

This might backfire for Fuji. Leica could drop the price of their surplus supplies of Q2 cameras to $1995, dump em on the market and destroy any future demand for the X100v. But I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen. 

Alternatively, maybe the group within Fuji that knew how to make the X100v were all lured away by that camera powerhouse, Ricoh, to work on the next generation of the Pentax APS-C DSLR. Yeah, that's probably it. 

Don't get me wrong, the X100v is a very decent camera and, in some hands can be quite a fun picture taking machine. But... a worldwide shortage based on inflamed demand? Driven by TikTok influencers? Perhaps this camera is just the "Chia Pet" or "Pet Rock" of our time, in the camera world.... but unlike those other products is one that requires actual manufacturing instead of just the procurement of.....rocks.

It would be nice if we could buy the X100Vs now. But having owned several I'd peg their real retail value at something closer to $1295. But I guess the cost of rare earth materials like "unobtainium" drives the pricing structure. You can't discount against demand.

The real danger for Fuji is that some company like Sony will wise up and get into the "rangefinder replica" game, come out with an equally "retro" product and snatch the market away from Fuji while Fuji has their eyes on other prizes.... like their "faux" medium format cameras. But that's a whole other story.

Can't wait to see if someone in some large, unnamed country famous for counterfeit products sees the pent up demand and starts flooding the world market with really good knock offs. 

Now waiting on Panasonic to bring out their faux rangefinder version. It'll probably be full frame. Won't that be a market disrupter? Especially if it feature lens interchangeability.

Final thought. What if Fuji waits too long and the entire fickle market of trendy camera buyers moves on to Generative A.I. instead? I mean, if your computer can do the heavy lifting for you and then you get to claim credit for a "mix tape" of other people's work why even bother with the drudgery of camera ownership? Or even worse; having to learn how to make good photographs on your own?



Why I like photographers. And what I am shortlisting, camera-wise, on my wish list.

 The camera in my hands is the Panasonic Lumix S5. It's a great, smaller, full frame camera. It takes all the lenses offered in the L mount system. It's been replaced by a newer model... The S5ii. If I were buying a camera right now, today, it would be the S5ii. But why?

Before I get into year another essay about a camera I thought I'd talk about the first section of my headline; "why I like photographers." 

First of all, let's get this out of the way... I tend to have a flawed writing style for conventional blogs. I use a lot of determinative sentences and my writing makes it seem like I'm constantly putting out unarguable, declarative statements of fact. Not that I really mean to. I'm always flexible enough to imagine: "What if the other guy is right?"

But over the years many folks have written in to let me know that just because I say something is so, with a firm clackety-clack, on the keyboard doesn't make it so. I guess I'll try to get over that but who knows if I ever will? It's not like I'm disposed to head out to some writer's workshop and reform my entire approach to my (non-profit) blog site... I'll just depend on the several world class writers that frequent VSL to give me a kind but firm swat on the typing hands when needed. 

I have a book that keeps popping up on my bedside table begging me to re-read one or more of its essays before I nod off to sleep. I've had the book for at least 15 years and when I first bought it I was put off by the writer's style of writing. It seemed to me to be overly fussy. Now I realize that what I took for "fussiness" was really a focus on making the words the writer had written present his thoughts in crystal clear exactness. Thoughts which are as opinionated in their own way as mine. At any rate the book has withstood my growth as a reader, my tendency to look for more sensational writing, my desire to cloud my brain with technical stuff instead of philosophy, and more than one emergency regarding spilled coffee. 

The book is entitled: Why People Photograph. It was written by an English major/professor turned photographer turned back again to a writer. And an able guide to thinking about photography in ways far different than I used to. The book was published in 1994 by Aperture. Its form is a series of essays about photography, writing, and art.

After swim practice this morning I remembered that after this afternoon's calming and benevolent cup of coffee I'd be down to the very bottom of the coffee supply in the house. Sure, we have a jar of instant somewhere but I've heard that it should just be used for emergencies. Even read somewhere that in a number of countries having to drink instant coffee is a routine punishment for petty crimes such as shoplifting or speeding. 

I figured it was time to head up the street and two blocks to the right to visit my local coffee shop and coffee roaster. They have a Columbian medium roast coffee that will bring tears to your eyes. Unless, of course, you've surpassed that level of coffee connoisseur-ship  and can now only drink Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee or perfectly roasted Kona. 

Sometimes, mostly in the mornings, the shop can get busy and there is a wait for one of the coffee professionals to get enough of a break in the action to head over and bundle coffee for me. So I take a book. That way I can look studious and I don't have to talk to anyone ---- if I don't want to. The book I've been re-reading is the above mentioned. 

I had a bit of a wait today. But it was worth it. For every twelve pounds of coffee one buys at Trianon Coffee one gets a free pound. Since I was buying coffee for myself and for my adult child, whom I have ruined for cheap coffee, I had time to read one essay while waiting and smelling the heady perfume of fresh coffee everywhere. Sad for people who only drink lattes and cappuccinos. The different blends are so much fun to try.

I nursed a small cup of Costa Rican coffee and turned to the first essay in the book, entitled: "Colleagues." 

And in a moment I came across something that Robert Adams wrote that seemed aimed directly at me today. Exactly at this point in my life. I'll copy it here:

     "I have to admit that there is another reason I like photographers -- they don't tempt me to envy. The profession is short on dignity. Nearly everyone has fallen down, been the target of condescension (the stereotypical image of a photographer being that of a mildly contemptible, self-indulgent dilettante( been harassed by security guards and dropped expensive equipment. Almost all photographers have incurred large expenses in the pursuit of tiny audiences, finding that the wonder they'd hoped to share is something few want to receive. Nothing is so clarifying, for instance, as to stand through the opening of an exhibition to which only officials have come.

     Experiences like that do encourage defiance, however. Why quite while you are losing?"

--Robert Adams. 

Bleak but, in a way, satisfying. No one gets out of this "gallery" alive so why not tilt at all the windmills you want to? And it speaks to a commonality between all artists, and I would assume, most writers...

Now. On to the ruminations about  cameras.

I've been saying for a while, as have many other better and worse pundits, that all cameras are good enough for our purposes now. And by this we mean that current cameras which are in our use profiles, and have similar specifications, are easily better in their potential than in our actual use. But we're always on the prowl for that "perfect" compromise which we imagine will buy us super high performance, all the haptics any person could wish for and incredible "value" (cheap bastards!) all in one tidy and prestigious package. We further hope, that when finding this unicorn camera it can be wedded with equally good lenses, also offered at bargain prices. 

For the moment I think I've figured out which camera that might be for people like myself (maybe five years ago...) who want a wonderful photographic tool that is also equally gifted at making professional looking video. It's got to be the Panasonic Lumix S5mk2. (See that declarative sentence??? Just setting myself up for grief...). 

Gerald Undone, one of my favorite (video leaning) imaging machine reviewers (on Youtube) recently reviewed the camera here: Gerald's S5ii Review and basically/literally said that the S5ii might be the best value in a camera.... ever. If you go to his channel I think he also has a supplemental review up now of the S5iiX which is a more video-centric version of the same basic camera. I agree with everything he's said about the glorious little machine...

So, here, in this inexpensive camera, you get the same processor that Leica just designed into the new Q3 and which will probably drive the new Leica SL cameras when they arrive. It's a much faster and more potent image processor than existed in any previous Panasonic or Leica camera so it will drive the AF quicker, the frame read/write quicker, and potentially do a better job processing images at speed. And, since nearly every sensor in the camera world is a Sony the main differentiator between camera brands is the quality of their color science which is determined, in part, by sheer data throughput of the dedicated processors. The more data the camera can process the more control, detail and color discrimination it can apply to your files!!!

As I mentioned, the camera serves up lenses from the L mount alliance so you have, conveniently, a great range of world classes lenses to choose from which all should work seamlessly with this camera. Wanna make yourself happy and piss off just about everyone? Put a $5500 50mm APO Summicron lens on the from of your $2,000 Lumix camera and go out for a session. 

The camera has its own cooling fan so you will have no fears of it "Canon-ing" or "Sony-frying" and coming to an ignominious, thermally-driven, full stop just as your actor hits her mark in your video production. Or while standing in 104° desert heat waiting for the light to get perfect. It just won't go there. 

For you viewing sissys there is a swivel screen on the back. Yeah, I know it's easier to get those low angle shots and for that I'd prefer a one axis tilt screen instead. No one really, really needs a screen to swing out from the side. (Another one of those "all or nothing" sentences...sorry). 

The camera has two SD UHS11 slots, a big HDMI plug, lots of options for audio, etc. But at its most basic it's got everything I want in a straight up photographic camera including a state of the art sensor, incredibly good high ISO performance, wide dynamic range and a truly professional menu system. One that even a professional photographer can understand. Add in a more detailed EVF than its predecessor and PD-AF focusing and you're ready to go. 

Any downsides? No red dot (kidding, just kidding). Not that I can think of.  Maybe the 8 frames per second with full focusing is too slow for you.... funny to write that. Even funnier to think about the need for a thousand quick frames of a stationary object... 

I have too many cameras right now to think of buying one but it's on the radar and if I go off the rails sometime soon and get antsy to do a full scale sloughing of gear I might saunter over and pick one up. How could I go wrong. 

So, in the week that the Q3 hits my thoughts have been elsewhere. Why? Because I think for most of us the S5ii makes a hell of a lot more sense. Especially if you already own most of the Sigma i-Contemporary lens catalog and all in L mount configurations. Now I just need to figure out what my rationale is for buying one.

Or, I could turn to the next page in the Robert Adams book and feel smugly smarter and more comfortable with my role as a photographer.


Yeah. He's a landscape photographer. So what?

Click through my links and buy a Lamborghini. 


Portrait of Fadya posted because I'm tired of seeing generative A.I. stuff. And I want to see "real" photographs...


Photography was a lot more fun when we really had to work at it to make it special. I loved the process of photographing Fadya. It was fun to arrange a session, sit and chat, take frames when the spirit moved us and to make as nice an image in post production as I could without "cheating." 


My tribute to Tina Turner. In video.

 I shot this video for inclusion in a fund-raising program for Zach Theatre back during the early days of Covid. I have always liked Tina Turner's performances and was saddened by her passing. 

enjoy: https://vimeo.com/462396471?share=copy

After lunch and a nap and walk around the lake I realized that I wanted to be in an airport in Europe and wanted to find a young woman to photograph there in the terminal...


So I hopped on a plane, flew for 13 hours, made one stop, ate bad baked chicken in economy class and finally arrived at my nondescript European airport. I was there for just a few seconds when a very attractive women in a demure, gray blouse walked up to me and asked me to take her photograph. I did so, realized that the goal of my trip had been attained and caught the next flight back to Austin where I post processed the image for my audience here.


I opened the PS beta, typed in a few lines and hit "generate." And, without leaving my office got my "photo" of the young lady. Of course this new set of tools will have no effect whatsoever on commercial photography or, in fact, any part of the creative services industry. 

Anybody want to buy a box full of cameras and lenses? 

Ground control to Major Tuck. Can you hear me Major Tuck? ... Oh the heck with Photoshop silliness, let's swim. Some thoughts about Fuji X100V versus Q2 in the bottom half of the post.


I started with a blank slate and asked Photoshop's "generative fill" to construct an outer space scene and then to create and drop in a wholly fictional photograph of a brilliant, creative and very serious photographer to the mix. This is what came out. I tried the other options but the ones where the human subject had octopus tentacles were just a bit creepy for me. 

Dear readers, I know that I can use generative fill to extend the edges of the canvas with more space, filled with details that are amazingly indistinguishable from the existing backgrounds. And that there are many other uses for G.F. that could enhance production efficiency. I'd rather dwell on the nonsense aspect which I feel will become the future of most imaging. Your mileage will vary with your personal degree of seriousness. 

It's been an interesting week or so. I've given away about 60% of my lighting equipment to photographers who are just exiting schools and starting down their own paths into imaging. I find myself still in possession of more than enough equipment to do the kinds of jobs I have routinely done through the years.  But the good feelings that come from helping someone on the same journey are nice. They take the sting out of winding down my more vigorous schedule into something that's more a blend of work and play than "all work." The realization though that I still have enough gear to keep working is unsettling since it means I was way overstocked.

I feel like I've survived the cycle of the Leica Q3 product introduction without succumbing to yet another impulsive purchase. In the process I've discovered the stages of product intoxification. One moves from discovery to rampant research to figuring out where in one's personal gear mix the product will best fit, followed by a plan to get rid of older stuff to make room for the newer stuff, followed by the rationalization of just how great the new product will make all of your photographic experiences going forward, followed by the search for reviews, followed by the search for vendors and then the final realization that, if you have not pre-ordered by now you can probably give up any thought of acquiring the product before next year.... 

At which point you de-escalate the whole process, going in reverse until you end up convincing yourself that you are perfectly happy with all the stuff you already have and you start to ignore the 200th breathless YouTube pre-pre-pre review from someone who brushed up against the camera purely by chance, decided a quick video would get some clicks, and who will never in this life time actually come out of pocket and purchase one.

At this point you calm down and realize that all your gear is so much better than most of your ideas for photographs that adding any new or old tools wouldn't matter to the end results in the least. And you become resigned (for now) to the stasis in your gear cabinet. Maybe assuaging your need to buy by picking up yet another (much less expensive) lens that you know you don't really need and probably won't get much use from. 

At this point, if you are at all wise, you shut down the computer, turn off the smart phone and head to the pool to swim laps until the avaricious impulses recede and finally dissipate. And you start thinking about shopping for new swim goggles (about $25....).

And, speaking of pool time, we had a special Monday swim practice this morning to celebrate Memorial Day. Coach Coleman wrote some great sets and most people dribbled in late to join those more compulsive of us who arrived early and jumped in to start swimming just as the clocks hit the top of the hour. I won't bore you with the details but I will say that I truly feel as though I earned that post swim cup of single origin Columbian coffee and that huge, warm, sybaritic chocolate croissant. Or Petit Pain au  Chocolat. Damn, it was good. Forgot to bring one home for B. I hope she skips reading this post. Oh, who am I kidding? She gave up reading the blog a decade ago.... She has to live with the author. She already gets her ration of silly ideas.

Today was my first day to show off my new swimming pool shoes. My Summer Crocs. Love them or hate them, I don't care. They are perfect for getting to the car from the house, the car to the pool, and back again. And the colors are superb. Here! Just look!!! You know you want some. These are the "all terrain" version. Stronger soles on the bottom. 

Superb, yes? Can't wait to see how good they look with a conservative business suit... 

Someone left me a comment yesterday asking "Why the Leica Q2 instead of the Fuji X100V?" and I thought I'd take a few minutes to answer. It's a sensible question. 

I bought two of the Fuji X100V cameras back in late 2020. Seems like a dream now since no one is able to get the cameras from any of the usual vendors, and that's been the case for at least a year now. I bought one in black and one in chrome and thought I'd really love them. The idea of the camera is right on target but there are a few little niggles that bugged me. The shutter sounds a bit tinny when it goes off. The overall quality of the materials the camera is constructed of is pedestrian. Not worse than most cameras but the body feels light, inconsequential, almost bendable with too much finger pressure. I also felt the EVF view was subpar. And the controls finicky.

I had not used a Q camera before buying the X100v but can now say that they represent two entirely different levels of build quality. That being said, neither of them is particularly comfortable to hold and use unless you festoon each of them with thumb grips that fit into the hot shoes and, at least with the Q2, also a front hand grip. Equal "con" points for unadorned use directly out of their respective boxes. 

The Jpeg and raw files out of each are very nice but the Leica's near doubling of resolution shows up. Especially in conjunction with its much better lens. But again, there too is a bit of a trade off since I'd rather have the 35mm angle of view be the base than a 28mm. 

A win for the Fuji is the depth of image customization provided in Jpeg. The film modes that come with the camera are good and some from external sources are even better. Love the Tri-X look. But head to head the combination of a better lens and a higher res sensor, coupled with the full frame look, makes the Q2 a better choice if you mostly work with raw files and have spent a few moments to create your own set of image profiles or "looks." They are just "deeper" files.

Is the  Q2 worth the extra money? No. You can do gorgeous images with an X100V if you have a modicum of talent and you aren't overly concerned with subjective stuff like the "feel" of a camera or the complexity of its software. If you have to crop a Leica image to match the focal length look of the Fuji you are close to parity in terms of resolution. So if you are a 35mm shooter you are ending up paying a lot more for the same basic angles of view. But, if you absolutely love the 28mm (because you can't decide what you want in the frame at the time of exposure) and you find yourself shooting with it all the time then you'll want the 28mm. And, if so, you'll enjoy the Leica more.

One area in which the Leica spanks the Fuji is when working out in the street with the camera using manual focusing and using hyperfocal distance techniques. Or "zone" focusing. The Leica manual focusing feature is nicely calibrated, repeatable and has wonderful hand feel on the focusing ring. You can set an aperture (f8 anyone?), set a focus distance (10 feet anyone?) and teach yourself quickly how to get sharp images without spending a lot of time worrying and fussing over exact focus. Or where the AF focusing points are set.  With the Fuji.... not so much. You get a shitty little distance scale in the finder or on the LCD but it's vague and slow to use. It would be one of my last choices for a workflow based around manual focusing.

If I had all the money in the world, no kids to put through school, no pension fund failures, no remaining mortgage and no car payments, I wouldn't hesitate to buy the Leica. If any of those pre-conditions were existing I would never be able to justify the expense ---- which is probably why it was just last year that I finally bought my first Leica Q camera --- even though I wanted one since the original was launched in 2015. It's all relative. If you're having trouble making the monthly nut then spending $6000 on a discretionary/hobby purchase is imprudent at best. If you're no longer flying commercial and you are on a first name basis with the pilot of your Gulfstream it's a completely different calculation. Buy a couple in case you lose one somewhere along the line. Or you used one to tip your pizza delivery guy. (made your personal chef grimace there, right?).

It's a bit of a moot point right now as the Fujis seem unattainable while the Q2s show "in stock" at several merchant sites. Depends also on what your intended use is. For me either of the cameras would be secondary cameras used for fun and walking around with. Neither of them are flexible enough to be "only" cameras for someone who is used to a wide range of focal lengths and capabilities. Bravo to you if you are an artist and can hone in on a single lens camera for your primary tool --- I'm jealous.

And that's my two cents worth.