11.20.2021

My List to My Secret Santa. Here's what I want for the holidays!!!

 Dear Santa,

I have a few things on my list this which I don't think my friends and family are going to get me. I thought that since I have been so, so good this year that you might see your way clear to assemble these items for me and gently drop them down my chimney. If you can't get everything on the list I will certainly understand because I'm sure you are as much at the mercy of shortages, et al as everyone else. But, as you are magical I do expect you'll fare better than most... Again, I have been very good. By my scale I've been extremely good. No felony arrests, no arguments or fights with anyone. I even held the door for people behind me from time to time. 

So, let's get started. 

Santa, please bring me a Leica SL2-S so I can take advantage of the great high ISO performance, where needed. The camera will go nicely with the other SL variants I've been using but, if you have the time, would you instruct the elves to paint in the Leica logo with white paint on the pentaprism? I think the black out logo is a bit pretentious and messes up the overall design aesthetic when viewing the camera from the front. And as usual, can you include an extra battery? They're pricey. 

Since we're already knee deep in the Leica catalog I hope it's not too much to ask for you to bring me one of those snazzy Leica Q2 cameras. I thought for a while that I might want the monochrome version but I think I'm capricious enough that I'm a better fit for the regular, color model. I'm sure you are thinking to yourself, "This dude already has a CL, what does he need a Q2 for?" And usually I'd agree with you but...I want to see for myself what all the fuss is about with this camera. I mean, I'm seeing great images from it everywhere and everyone who owns one just gushes about it. If you can get it to me in time I promise I'll write a really nice article about it before the end of the year. I don't want it to appear as though I'm trying to bribe you but we get our cookies from a famous baker and we only set out Horizon Organic milk with the cookies... just sayin. If you can't make up your mind between the regular version of the Q2 and the Monochrom it would be totally cool to just bring both! 

Santa, I'm sure you have a back-up sleigh for those just in case moments when everything goes to hell with your regular flying equipment so you'll understand if I also ask for another Leica CL. When I find a camera I really like I'm always a bit apprehensive about it being discontinued or otherwise made unavailable. If you were to source me the "Starter Kit" which includes the 18mm lens I'd be most grateful. Sure, the TTArtisan 17mm lens is really, really close but sometimes you just feel lazy and want that autofocus. You know how it is... And as long as you've got the Leica elves on overtime making stuff for the people who've been extra, extra good could you also drop a 23mm Summicron in my stocking? To keep that 18mm company? It just seems so logical. Salt and Pepper, peanut butter and jelly, 18mm and 23mm...

Almost done with the Leica catalog but there is one more thing I was hoping you could tuck into that big bag of gifts. This is a big ask so I'll go out on a limb here and give you my solemn promise that I'll be even better next year than I was in 2021. I mean I'll be so nice it will amaze people. Influencer strength nice-ness. So, what I think I might enjoy as we go into the long Winter month (yes, in Texas that would be singular) would be a 50mm Summicron SL. It would just look so good on the front of my cameras. And you know how much I love the 50mm focal length on my full frame cameras....

Now, this one is not really a Leica product so there's some divergence here but...could you light a fire under one of the better makers of flash equipment to get a nice TTL flash made that supports the SL cameras but has a smaller price tag and better performance than the current Leica flashes? I'm thinking along the lines of a Godox V1 but set up for Leica. You don't even have to splash out and get me one. Just get it on the market and I'll pay for it. Crazy that I have to ask you, Santa Clause, to goose the flash makers to support a worldwide brand in this way but there it is....

Moving on from the Leica stuff. I've been patiently waiting for Apple to release two things and I think they'd make perfect gifts for someone who has been platinum tier good this year (that would be me! Did I mention that I let people pull into my lane, with a warm welcome---as long as they use their turn signals?). Now neither of these is currently available but I figured you could expedite... The first would be a new iMac Pro but with a 30 inch screen and powered by the new M1x Max processor(s). If I had to make a color choice I'd stick with Space Gray but, hey! since it's a gift I'll leave it up to you choose the color. If I up the cookies to a couple of chocolate rum pecan pies could you see your way to stock the computer with 64 GB of super fast RAM? That would really rustle my holly. 

Next up, I know the Apple car isn't scheduled to be launched until 2025 but I'm equally certain that they'll need Beta testers soon. You know, real people. People who've made it to near the top of Santa's list of "good" or almost saintly people. If you could work on hooking me up with a Beta model of the car I'd be more than happy to send the folks at Apple feedback now and then. It's a big ask but....when you are working hard at being so good there should be a few rewards. 

That was an odd detour but now, back to photo stuff. 

Not sure if anyone is currently making these but a set of three or four good light stands that are made out of titanium would be great. Easier to carry and sure to impress. Please make sure they go up to at least 10 feet. And, if possible, maybe a titanium tripod as well (Arca Swiss bullhead, of course). Certainly will make all those people toting around carbon fiber tripods sit up and take notice; right? 

That's about it Santa. If this list is too vast you can pick and choose but be sure to start with the top items first. We all have to prioritize. 

Not sure what my fellow photographers want for their holiday gifts. Maybe they'll chime in here in the comments. 

Almost forgot... always looking for better camera straps. You know, if you just need some throw-ins to flesh out my stocking cache. 

(somewhat tongue in cheek. But only "somewhat." )

A Quick Gallery of Images from the Leica CL + TTArtisan 50mm f1.2

 I'm including this gallery of images which I took on Thursday since they show more examples of the kinds of photographs I like to make when using the little Leica. It's an enjoyable camera to have around and the ability to use interesting lenses makes it even more valuable to me. 

The 50mm f1.2 TTartisan lens is really good if you shoot it at f2.5, 2.8, 4.0 or f5.6. When you go to faster apertures the edges and corners suffer a bit but this is only important if you can about what's on the edges and in the corners. Otherwise, shoot the aperture that allows you to get the shot. The lens isn't doing anything that a different legacy lens could not do. For instance, if I put a Nikon manual focus 50mm f1.4 lens on the front (with an adapter) I could probably get images that were just as sharp in the center and maybe even better on the edges. But it would be bigger, heavier and more cumbersome to shoot. The real advantage of the TTartisan lens is that it's sized for APS-C and part of that advantage is down to the fact that it doesn't autofocus nor does it (or the camera) provide I.S.

I'm enjoying the pleasure of capping a work day with a nice walk around and through downtown as the sun sets and twilight descends. People are on the move from work to cafes, bars, the hike and bike trails or just heading home. The tops of buildings glow from the last vestiges of direct sun while the valleys in between buildings turn more and more blue. The pace is different. 


these (above and just below) were included not because of my fixation with this particular mannequin but to show the difference in f1.2 and f2.8 with the 50mm f1.2 lens. The focus is on the hand in front. You can see much of the difference if you look at the reflections of the buildings...




The moon in the early evening sky. In the top right section of the image. Vignetting supplied for free.

Note the nice sunstars on the street lamp and the lack of flaring from any of the light sources. 
It may not be the sharpest lens when it comes to wide open apertures and corner sharpness but
it seems to have flare under control.



If I pay attention to technique and my own breathing I can often handhold shots 
at 1/15th or 1/30th with no major hits to sharpness. The CL doesn't seem to suffer much (if at all) from shutter shock. And it's easy to handhold. 


Stopping down and staying steady at f5.6.




So much about noise in files has to do with the particular scene.
In this one there's a lot of dark blue sky and you can see appreciable noise in the top of the frame where the sky gets darkest. The camera is limited, for this kind of work, to ISO 3200 and below. 
The frame above was done at 6400 and that was a stretch too far. 
shot through the plate glass window of a furniture store. Lens used wide open.



The mannequins are becoming risqué. 


I focused on the second jewelry form. It's nice to have so much depth of field control in a smaller format. 





I just read the announcement of a 23mm lens for APS-C from TTartisan. I hope they make a version for the L mount cameras because it's a focal length that actually makes a bit of sense for a smaller camera. 

In the meantime I'm using the larger, more modern and maybe more functional 20-60mm Panasonic lens when I need to cover focal lengths around that range. 

Great swim this morning. My lane leader was on fire and pushing the intervals in a private competition with the lane leader in the adjacent lane. Our rest intervals shrank to nothing and then the pace got bumped up. By the end I think we were all of the opinion that we didn't leave much in reserve. On days like this a good, mid-afternoon nap is strongly indicated.  

Our coach today was Olympic Gold Medalist, Clark Smith. He knows how to motivate masters swimmers to really get moving. We earned our coffee today.